Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 1
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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LATE SHOW: Princeton University women’s hockey star Melanie Wallace passes the puck up the ice in a game earlier this winter. Last week, Wallace scored a game-tying goal in a 2-2 tie with Quinnipiac on December 31 and then assisted on the game winner in Princeton’s 1-0 win over the Bobcats last Saturday. Princeton will look to keep on the winning track when it hosts Harvard on January 8 and Dartmouth a day later.

Senior Wallace Aiming to Make Every Minute Count as Tiger Women’s Hockey Heads Into Stretch Drive

Bill Alden

Melanie Wallace feels a sense of urgency with just a few months left in her senior season on the Princeton University women’s hockey team.

“I think in terms of knowing that your number of games are limited, you just give every single thing that you can,” said Wallace.

“Each game, each shift, I am trying to make a positive contribution. Maybe it’s not scoring every game; sometimes it’s getting the pucks out and making the right passes.”

Last Saturday, the Tigers collectively felt time slipping away as they hosted Quinnipiac. Coming into the afternoon at 7-8-2 overall and 5-4-2 in ECAC Hockey play, Princeton struggled to find a rhythm as it went into the first intermission knotted in a scoreless tie.

“We came back to the locker room and did a little soul searching and decided if we are going to turn around the season, we need to do it right now,” recalled Wallace. “I think it was one of those days where everyone was going to give 100 percent.”

The Tigers responded in the second period, outshooting the Bobcats 12-4 as they gained some momentum even though the game remained scoreless.

In the third period, Wallace led the way as Princeton broke through with a tally. The senior forward directed the puck to Paula Romanchuk who sent it on to Danielle DiCesare with the latter finding the back of the net at the 5:56 mark of the third period.

The goal held up as Tiger freshman goalie Cassie Seguin held the fort in picking up her third shutout in the 1-0 victory.

In reflecting on the goal, Wallace acknowledged that it was a matter of getting the right bounce.

“I knew that somebody was going to cut me off so I basically in desperation threw it to the center,” said Wallace, who had scored the game-tying goal last Thursday in Princeton’s 2-2 tie with Quinnipiac in the first contest of the two-game set between the ECACH rivals.

“Paula Romanchuk, who doesn’t make too many mistakes, passes to DiCesare, who put it in. You have a chance to score when you are playing with those two girls. Things started to click for us and eventually you are going to get the bounces to go your way.”

Wallace enjoys passing on her experience to the underclassmen. “Every year, your role sort of changes, depending on who you get in and who you lose,” said Wallace, who has 56 points in her career on 21 goals and 35 assists. “I think as a senior everything comes full circle. You try to be a leader to those younger kids.”

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal is pleased with the leadership he is getting from Wallace. “Mel is doing a great job; she has been playing hurt all year,” said Kampersal of the 5’8 native of London, Ontario who was nine points this winter on four goals and five assists.

“She is feeling it; I give her a lot of credit for having heart and soul and going out there and competing. For her, the last two games have been two of her better games.”

In Kampersal’s view, Princeton’s win over Quinnipiac was one of the team’s better efforts of the season.

“We did a lot of things today that we didn’t do in the first game,” asserted Kampersal.

“Little things, like using the boards, using the glass and keeping the puck out of the middle. We were getting the shots to the goal low so we could go for rebounds. On that play we got the goal, ‘Cheesy’ [DiCesare] was going hard to the net and ‘Chucky’ [Romachuk] made a nice pass to her. Cassie was great in net. Those are all the elements that we need to do well.”

One of the key elements to Princeton’s success is the one-two scoring punch of sophomore forwards DiCesare and Romanchuk, who have scored 17 points and 15 points, respectively, to lead the Tigers.

“They are good together,” said Kampersal of the sophomore standouts.

“They work hard. They have a good communication; they know where one another are on the ice. They both grind which is important. They work and compete which is fun to watch.”

Things haven’t been fun at times for Kampersal as the Tigers have demonstrated a penchant for uneven play so far this season.

“We have been a little inconsistent,” acknowledged Kampersal, whose team moved to 8-8-2 overall and 6-4-2 in the ECACH with the victory over Quinnipiac.

“We have had great games like Harvard, BU, and the second Vermont game and then we have some games where we haven’t had enough jump or grit.”

With home games coming up with arch rivals Harvard (8-3-2 overall, 6-3 ECACH) and Dartmouth (6-6-2 overall, 4-4-1) this Friday and Saturday, Kampersal is hoping the win over Quinnipiac will get the Tigers on the right track.

“Today, we controlled the blue lines,” said Kampersal, whose team is third in the ECACH with 14 points, trailing co-leaders Cornell and Clarkson by two points.

“We had grit; we killed off a big penalty at the end of the game. We needed it in the league. We needed it in the fact that we haven’t won in awhile; it was just important overall for everything and they worked hard for it. I think they deserved it.”

Wallace, for her part, believes the Tigers are ready to work hard for a big stretch drive.

“Last year we had an outstanding stretch at the end of the season,” said Wallace.

“I think we have 11 left here and we are going to try to go 11 and 0. It is a little tougher this year; everybody is pretty good but I think we have the character in the locker room to do it. It’s a matter of doing the little things right and getting a good effort from everybody, from the fourth line up to the coaches. Everybody is committed to that now so I think we’ll make some noise down the stretch.”

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