Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 19
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
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(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PRIER KNOWLEDGE: Bob Prier smiles as he met the media last week in his introductory press conference as the new head coach of the Princeton University men’s hockey program. Prier, 34, is a former star for St. Lawrence men’s hockey and spent the last nine years on the coaching staff of his alma mater. He is replacing Guy Gadowsky, who left the program to be the head coach at Penn State.

Prier Thrilled to Be Guiding PU Men’s Hockey: Vows to Maintain Tigers’ Freewheeling Style

Bill Alden

This past March, Bob Prier helped coach the St. Lawrence men’s hockey team to an upset of the Princeton University squad in the first round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs.

“I thought, without a doubt, that they were the toughest draw we could have had in the playoffs,” said Prier, reflecting on the best-of-three series which saw the 11th-seeded Saints top No. 6 Princeton 2-1.

“We were extremely fortunate to get by them. In that third game, I don’t think we touched the puck and our goaltender played incredible. We stole one and got out of here as quick as we could.”

Last week, Prier, 34, felt fortunate to be back in Princeton again, being named as the new head coach of the Tigers’ men’s hockey team, replacing Guy Gadowsky, who left the program to be the head coach at Penn State.

“My family and I have gotten a fortunate break in this and we plan to take full advantage of it,” said Prier, a former star at St. Lawrence who had spent the past nine seasons on the coaching staff of his alma mater.

“We would like to thank Gary [Princeton Director of Athletics Gary Walters] and the committee for having the confidence in me and selecting me to lead their hockey program. It is just an incredible thing that has happened in my life.”

Prier has plenty of confidence in the players he is inheriting. “I was fortunate to meet with them yesterday,” said Prier, who lauded Gadowsky for the job he did in rebuilding Princeton, noting that his successor left him a welcoming gift of some orange and black ties

“They are a great looking group of guys. I look forward to forming a relationship with all of them. I have incredible respect for what they can do and what they have done.”

Some 10 years ago, Prier actually began his relationship with the Princeton program, serving as an assistant coach for the Tigers during the 2001-02 season.

“The experience was incredible,” said Prier, who met his wife Lorenda, a former star goalie, while she was a fellow coach at Princeton and the couple now has three young children.

“I just had a tremendous respect for the student-athletes I was able to work with that year. Their time management skills were incredible. They were inspiring; they certainly made me a better person.”

Longtime St. Lawrence head coach Joe Marsh will tell you that Prier is quite a person himself.

“Bobby is a down to earth guy; he is a big, big guy with a heart as big as he is,” said Marsh of Prier, a 6’1, 210-pound forward who scored 116 points in his college career and served as team captain during his senior year.

“He will help anybody; it’s not about himself. He is one of the most genuine, generous people that I know. He has become one of my closest friends. Seeing him go to Princeton is like seeing your kid leaving home.”

In Marsh’s view, Prier grew into quite a man during his playing career with the Saints.

“He got better and better, he paid attention to detail,” said Marsh, who has won more than 450 games in his 26 seasons guiding the Saints.

“He wanted to be a pro and he worked hard at everything. His work ethic is scary. He was one of the best captains we ever had. He had an inherent sense of leadership and he was a presence in the room. The guys were happy that he was putting on the same jersey. He was the toughest kid on the team but he was not a bully.”

It didn’t take long for Prier to establish his presence as a coach. “Bobby went after it full bore, he dug deep into recruiting,” said Marsh, noting that he promoted Prier to associate head coach and believed he would some day take the helm of the St. Lawrence program.

“He is good at doing the job; he learns as he goes. He is a very charismatic and will go out of his way to get things done. He will get up at 4 in the morning to drive to the airport to go see a kid play. He has a working knowledge of all facets of the game — playing, coaching, and recruiting.”

Not surprisingly, Marsh views his protégé as a good fit for Princeton. “Bobby is bright and he loves to learn,” said Marsh.

“He is open to new things. He understands what a good culture is about and he understands academic demands. He is a hockey guy through and through but it is not just about hockey for him. I think Princeton picked up on his enthusiasm, the kids will never be bored with Bobby around.”

There figures to be plenty of excitement around Baker Rink with Prier at the helm.

“I like for the guys to have fun; that’s my main objective,” said Prier. “I enjoy watching my players do spectacular things so that’s the type of game we are going to play. It’s not going to be much different than what fans have seen over the last several years. There will be differences; I am not Guy but we have similar coaching styles.”

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