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Vol. LXIII, No. 1
 
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
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HOME COOKING: Princeton University women’s hockey freshman forward Heather Landry skates out of the corner in recent action. Last Friday, Landry, a native of Lexington, Mass., had a happy homecoming as she scored the lone goal in Princeton’s 1-0 win at Harvard.

After Producing Breakthrough Weekend, PU Women’s Hockey in Thick of Title Race

Bill Alden

For the Princeton University women’s hockey team, its annual foray to Harvard and Dartmouth has typically proven to be mostly fruitless.

Coming into last weekend, the Tigers hadn’t posted a sweep in Cambridge and Hanover since the 1993-94 campaign, going 0-10-1 in its last 11 contests at Harvard and having lost five of its last six games at Dartmouth.

But as the Tigers rode on their bus to New England on New Year’s Day, Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal had a feeling things might be different in 2009.

“I think the girls practiced hard all week and they stayed in shape over the break,” said Kampersal. “They were ready to go against Harvard.”

Princeton proved it was ready for a breakthrough weekend as it pulled out a 1-0 nailbaiter at Harvard on Saturday with Boston-area product Heather Landry scoring the lone goal of the contest.

“It took us about 10 minutes to get used to the speed of the game and we really settled in after that,” recalled Kampersal.

“We made the most of an errant pass by them, Heather did well to get that score. She was playing back at home in front of family and friends; I’m sure it was a really good goal for her.”

Princeton got some really good work in the net from senior goalie Kristen Young, who made 31 saves against the Crimson in posting her second shutout of the season.

“When she is on, we have a chance against anyone,” said Kampersal of the Calgary native who has a 2.41 goals against average. “She was at her best in the Harvard game.”

In its game the next afternoon against No. 3 Dartmouth, Princeton wasn’t at its best in the early stages of the game as it trailed 1-0 after the first period.

Disappointed by his team’s inconsistent play, Kampersal read the riot act to his players during the first intermission.

“We haven’t been the best in our next game after a big win; it was a big chance for us to fix that,” said Kampersal.

“We didn’t come out well in the first period. Between periods, they got a little wake-up call. I told them they are good and to go out and show it. We had a big opportunity and we needed to take advantage of it.”

The Tigers seized the opportunity in a big way, outscoring Dartmouth 3-0 in the second period, outshooting the Big Green 20-6 in the frame.

The Tigers got goals from Melanie Wallace, Caroline Park, and Julie Johnson in an eight-minute stretch of the period to seize the momentum.

With Young holding the fort in goal and Katherine Dineen adding an insurance goal with two minutes left, Princeton skated to a 4-1 win and an unlikely weekend sweep.

Kampersal would like his team to bottle what they showed over the last 40 minutes at Dartmouth.

“We really zapped them in the second period and played well the rest of the game,” said Kampersal, whose team improved to 9-8-1 overall and 6-5 in ECAC Hockey play with the victory.

“I’d like us to play all the time like we played in the last two periods at Dartmouth.”

Kampersal is confident his team is headed in the right direction. “Since the games at Minnesota-Duluth, the level of play has been higher,” maintained Kampersal.

“We know now that we can compete against the best teams; we need to play hard every game, every period, every shift.”

The Tigers will need that kind of effort if they are to make headway in the ECACH race which has tightened up. Princeton is currently in fifth place with 12 points, just two points behind league-leading Dartmouth.

“We are hanging on for dear life in the league race,” said Kampersal, whose team plays at Rensselaer on January 9 and at Union on January 10 before going on exam break.

“We have a big weekend coming up because we have another break coming up. We are playing RPI; they already beat us. We need to show up in both games.”

If Princeton can build on last weekend, it could beat a lot of teams down the stretch.

“I think we are getting more confident,” said Kampersal. “The lines are settling in; they are a little more comfortable with each other.”

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