Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 53
 
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
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CREASE CONTROL: Princeton University women’s hockey goalie Kristen Young makes a save in recent action. In Princeton’s last action before the holiday break, Young made a total of 82 saves as the Tigers split a two-game set at defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth. Princeton, currently 7-8-1 overall and 4-5 in ECAC Hockey play, will resume action when it plays at Harvard on January 2 and at Dartmouth on January 3.

PU Women’s Hockey Plagued by Inconsistency, Needs to Sharpen Focus to Reach Full Potential

Bill Alden

Playing at defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth for a two-game set before starting its holiday break, the Princeton University women’s hockey team produced an up-and-down performance emblematic of their season so far.

The Tigers started the weekend by scoring two goals in the first period on the way to a thrilling 4-3 win over the third-ranked Bulldogs on December 13.

A day later, Princeton was on its heels in the early going and never really found a rhythm as it ended the first half of its season getting blanked 3-0 by Minnesota-Duluth.

With his team taking an overall record of 7-8-1 into the break, Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal acknowledged that it has been one step forward, one step back for his squad.

“The girls know they are a good group; they have good potential,” said Kampersal, whose team is 4-5 in ECAC Hockey play, good for seventh in the league standings in the 12-school loop.

“We have beaten St. Lawrence and Duluth, who are two of the best teams in the country. But we have lost some tough games in league play. We have shown that we can play real well for 40 minutes but we haven’t put together a full 60-minute game. Kids have been in and out of the lineup; we haven’t seen our full complement of players. We need to use the break to get some rest and get healthy.”

In the opener against Minnesota-Duluth, the Tigers made their breaks as they rebounded from a rocky opening minute. “Things didn’t start well; we had a botched stick handle and they fired in a goal,” recalled Kampersal.

“About 20 seconds later, they almost had another and Younger [Kristin Young] made a great save. We took the rebound and Annie [Greenwood] took it end to end and made a real Greenwoodesque goal. The puck traveled over the defenseman and she hit it out of the air on the other side. About six or seven minutes later we got another one and we really settled down after that.”

The Tigers got a big game from freshman forward Julie Johnson, who scored two goals, doubling her season total.

“Julie moved to the middle; she is a big strong kid,” said Kampersal of the 5’7 native of Calgary Alberta.

“She struggled with d-zone coverage in the beginning but she’s going to be a really good player for us. She has a really quick wrist shot and it is heavy.”

Goalie Young is already a really good player for Princeton and she came up big for the Tigers in Duluth, making 37 saves in the win and recording 45 a day later to keep Princeton in the game. 

“Younger was very good both days,” said Kampersal of his senior goalie who has a goals against average of 2.65.

“I know it puts pressure on her but I tell her before every game that she needs to be our best player on the ice and she was in both games out there.”

The Tigers’ crew of freshman forwards has been up to the pressure of college hockey as Johnson, Paula Romanchuk (7 goals, 6 assists), Danielle DiCesare (7 goals, 4 assists), Charissa Stadnyk (3 goals, 4 assists) and Heather Landry (3 goals, 2 assists) have all made nice contributions.

“The freshmen are an excellent group; all of them are excellent kids,” asserted Kampersal.

“They are hockey players, not kids who play hockey. They eat, sleep, breathe the game; they come in for extra time at the rink to improve their games. They are the first ones there for practice.”

Junior forward Melanie Wallace has aided the transition for the freshmen.

“Melanie is really skilled; she has worked really hard,” said Kampersal of the London, Ont. native who is second on the team in scoring with 14 points on three goals and 11 assists.

“She plays with Chucky [Romanchuk] and Danielle and has done a real good job with that.”

Sophomore defenseman Sasha Sherry has been doing a real good job for the tigers anchoring its defense and leading the team in scoring with 15 points on six goals and nine assists.

“Sasha is incredibly skilled,” said Kampersal of the 6’0 Sherry who was a second-team All-ECACH performer last winter.

“For being one of the best players in the league, she is incredibly humble. She has great skills. She had a great goal against Duluth which was the game winner. She came up on the weak side, took a pass from Julie Flynn and parked it right under the crossbar.”

Junior defenseman Stephanie Denino has been a strong point for Princeton on the ice and in the dressing room.

“She has done a good job,” said Kampersaal of his junior co-captain. She is a real fun player; she is a high energy kid. She is loud. She gets it going on the ice, in the dressing room, and in the hallway.”

In order for the Tigers to make some noise in the second half of the season, they will need to get the most out of their potential.

“We need to show up everyday and be completely focused on what we are doing whether it is a long practice or a 15 minute workout,” said Kampersal, whose team will resume action when it plays at Harvard on January 2 and at Dartmouth on January 3.

“With the full complement of players, we should be stronger but the games will all be uphill battles. We can’t make mistakes like taking penalties at bad times.”

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