Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 2
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011
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(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FIRE ON ICE: Princeton University women’s hockey star Paula Romanchuk races up the ice in recent action. Last Saturday, senior forward and co-captain Romanchuk chipped in an assist as Princeton won 3-1 at St. Lawrence. It was the seventh straight win for the Tigers, who improved to 10-10-1 overall and 7-6-1 in ECAC Hockey play. Princeton is currently on a 20-day exam break and will be back in action when it hosts St. Lawrence on January 28 and Clarkson a day later.

PU Women’s Hockey Overcomes Rough Start, Takes 7-Game Winning Streak Into Exam Break

Bill Alden

While Jeff Kampersal wasn’t happy to see his Princeton University women’s hockey team start the season by winning just three of its first 14 games, he didn’t push the panic button.

“I was not desperate at 3-10-1,” said head coach Kampersal, who is in his 15th year guiding the Tigers.

“I knew we had been playing well but we had faced some really tough teams. We have good kids and I knew if they hung in there we would get better.”

But even Kampersal couldn’t imagine how quickly his faith in his players would be rewarded as the Tigers reeled off seven straight wins to go into their 20-day exam break at 10-10-1 overall and 7-6-1 in ECAC Hockey play.

“I can’t explain it; the kids are gung ho and they are really prepared to play but I can’t say that I thought we would get to 10-10-1,” said Kampersal, whose team topped Clarkson 2-0 last Friday and then beat St. Lawrence 3-1 a day later to climb into third place in the ECACH standings.

“We don’t practice long but they have been really working hard everyday. I am a believer that if you go hard in practice, it will help you in games.”

The hard work paid dividends right away in the contest on Friday as the Tigers outshot the Golden Knights 14-2 in the first period and took a 1-0 lead on a Sasha Sherry goal.

After weathering a Clarkson onslaught in the second period, the Tigers picked up an insurance goal from Olivia Mucha early in the third period and held on for a 2-0 win.

Kampersal credited senior star defenseman Sherry with giving the Tigers a lift.

“Sherry has been a monster player for us,” said Kampersal of the 6’0 Sherry who took part in a U.S. national team training camp earlier this month.

“She always gives us offense from the back but she has also been playing great in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill. She has a long reach and gets to a lot of pucks.”

The Tigers have been getting good two-way play from its junior line of Landry, co-captain Paula Romanchuk, and Danielle DiCesare. “All of our kids have been playing well but sometimes it is one group that is scoring and sometimes it is another,” said Kampersal.

“The junior line always gives a strong effort and plays well on defense. Now they are chipping in more offensively.”

The next day at St. Lawrence, the Tigers offense didn’t kick in until late in the contest as the game was scoreless in the second period until Tiger freshman Sally Butler found the back of the net.

In the third period, Princeton took a 2-0 lead on another goal by Mucha. After a tally by the Saints, Landry scored with 2:24 left in regulation to close the deal as Princeton picked up its seventh straight victory.

“We came out and played solidly but we killed nine minutes of penalties and we were hanging on,” said Kampersal in assessing his team’s performance against St. Lawrence.

“Some of our kids were tired. We got a big power play goal at the beginning of the third period and that gave us momentum.”

While Princeton extended its winning string, the St. Lawrence game marked the end of a tremendous streak by Princeton junior goalie Rachel Weber, who came into the game with four straight shutouts and having not allowed a goal in 246:27.

By surrendering the goal in the third period, Weber’s streak reached 289:43, breaking the Princeton record of 277:39 set by Roxanne Gaudiel and the ECACH record of 286:54 held by Cornell’s Amanda Mazzota.

“Rachel has been phenomenal,” said Kampersal of Weber, who currently sports a goals against average of 1.60 and a save percentage of .933.

“Our goalie coach, John Zdunkiewicz, has helped her a lot; he has been at practice twice a week, helping her with fundamentals. You get better at fundamentals and that gives you confidence. She was superb even before the streak; she kept us in some games against good teams like Cornell and Boston University.”

Kampersal is hoping his team can keep up its superb play when it returns from exam break by hosting St. Lawrence on January 28 and Clarkson a day later.

“It is a bummer to go on break now but we won four in a row after the holiday break,” said Kampersal.

“They need to take care of academic business and have peace of mind for hockey when they come back. I think they are in good shape mentally and physically, to do well.”

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