Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 8
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
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THE BUTLER DID IT: Princeton University women’s hockey player Sally Butler heads up the ice in recent action. Last Saturday, freshman forward Butler contributed a goal and an assist as Princeton topped Yale 4-2. The win improved the Tigers 16-12-1 overall and 13-8-1 in ECAC action and catapulted them into fourth place in final regular season league standings. As a result, the Tigers earned home ice in the quarterfinals and will host fifth-place Quinnipiac (20-11-3 overall, 12-9-1 ECACH) in a best-of-three series starting on February 25.

Princeton Women’s Hockey Focuses on Playing Well; Posts 2-0 Weekend, Will Host Quinnipiac in Playoffs

Bill Alden

Coming into last weekend, the Princeton University women’s hockey team knew that it would likely have to produce two victories to secure home ice for the upcoming ECAC Hockey playoffs.

But as Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal got his players ready for critical contests at Brown on Friday and Yale a day later, he didn’t talk much about winning or possible playoff scenarios.

“We have been trying to focus on the process, not the outcome,” said Kampersal.

“In years past, I would be focused on getting this win or that win and getting two points. Now we are looking to play as well as we can for 60 minutes. Even when we were 3-10-1, I thought we were doing that. We played a good game at Cornell and did well in the second game at Boston University.”

The Tigers played well from the start at Brown, building a 3-0 midway through the second period on goals by Olivia Mucha, Gabie Figueroa, and Kelly Cooke.

“It is important to start the weekend well,” said Kampersal. “Olivia scored on the first or second shift; she barreled down the ice like she does. Gabie got a fluky goal; she made a nice play going hard to the net. We sustained pressure and got the third goal.”

Things got dicey, though, in the third period as Brown narrowed the gap to 3-2 before Mucha tallied an open net goal to give the Tigers a 4-2 win.

“The game got weird in the third period; we got caught in transition and they made a nice play on their first goal,” said Kampersal. “Then there was a fire alarm at the rink and we had to evacuate. We lost some momentum; we didn’t handle that well.”

Princeton handled things well the next day as it posted a 4-2 win at Yale. The Tigers’ freshman line of Mucha, Denna Laing, and Sally Butler got things going. Laing scored Princeton’s first goal on an assist from Butler. The next goal came from Butler, who was assisted by Mucha. Junior co-captain Paula Romanchuk scored the Tigers’ third goal and then Laing added the final tally as the Tigers ended the regular season at 16-12-1 overall and 13-8-1 in ECAC action.

“I thought we were really focused on Saturday; we had a good effort for 60 minutes,” maintained Kampersal.

“Getting the first goal was good. They have a good goalie [Jackee Snikeris] and she has been playing well. We got a fluky one and were able to feed off of that. Then we got three really good goals that were super nice with hard work and three people touching the puck. I can’t say enough about the rookie line; they are always going hard and are strong on the puck. They have a good chemistry that you can’t manufacture.”

Princeton’s strong play over the weekend catapulted it into fourth place, thereby earning home ice in the quarterfinals as it will host fifth-place Quinnipiac (20-11-3 overall, 12-9-1 ECACH) in a best-of-three series starting on February 25.

While Kampersal doesn’t view home ice as a huge advantage, it beats the alternatives.

“We get to sleep in our own beds,” added Kampersal. “We can have a solid Thursday practice and not worry about going on the road and traveling. We could have been playing at Dartmouth, that would have been a six-hour trip.”

The Tigers are facing a solid foe in Qunnipiac. The teams split their two regular season games with Quinnipiac winning 5-2 last November and the Tigers rebounding to blank the Bobcats 3-0 in early January.

“They are well coached,” said Kampersal. “They have an amazing goalie [Victoria Vigilanti] and they have the likely Rookie of the Year in Kelly Babstock. She is a 30-goal scorer and has really added a lot for them. They are good on the power play and they don’t take a lot of penalties. We have to take advantage of the power play when we are on it. Our special teams have just been average. We need to stay out of the box and have the proper mental focus, trying to get better every shift.”

Kampersal is looking for his team to be focused on simply playing well as it looks to win a first round series for the first time since the 2005-06 season. “They say anything can happen in the playoffs and that is true,” said Kampersal.

“People can get sick or a goalie can stand on her head. Two years ago against RPI, we threw everything at them and it didn’t work out. Last year, we didn’t compete like we should against Harvard. I am looking for 100 percent competitiveness. However it shakes out, it shakes out.”

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