(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
LEAP OF FAITH: Princeton University senior captain Kim Pearce leaps around a Clarkson defender last Saturday. Pearce scored Princeton's only goal in the game which ended in a 1-1 tie. Princeton, now 2-0-2 on the season, plays at Brown on November 3 and then travels to Yale a day later.
Jeff Kampersal had a feeling that his Princeton University women's ice hockey team was ready to produce something special last Friday as it hosted third-ranked and undefeated St. Lawrence.
"I was happy with the way they prepared for the game," said Tiger head coach Kampersal. "It was a tough week with mid-terms. They looked really quick in the pregame and that's usually indicative of what's to come."
The ninth-ranked Tigers showed that they meant business from the opening faceoff as Marykate Oakley scored twice with Brittany Salmon and Annie Greenwood adding one apiece as Princeton built a 4-2 first period lead.
Late in the second period, Princeton extended its advantage to 6-3 as Kim Pearce found the back of the net with 46 seconds remaining in the period.
But getting whistled for penalty after penalty, the Tigers had to hold on as the Saints forged a furious comeback. St. Lawrence narrowed the gap to one goal as it outshot Princeton 20-3 in the final period. With goalie Kristen Young producing a 46-save effort, Princeton hung on for a 6-5 win and knocked the Saints from the ranks of the unbeaten.
"I thought we played well, we had a lot of jump," said Kampersal, whose team was outshot 51-21 on the evening as it surrendered four power play goals. "They came back, we kept getting called for penalties. It was power play and penalty kill just about the whole way, there didn't seem to be any consistency on what is or isn't a penalty."
Kampersal acknowledged the play of sophomore and first-year starter Young in goal was critical for Princeton.
"She's done well, she's a great kid and a hard worker," said Kampersal of his goalie who was later named the ECAC Hockey League's Goaltender of the Week. "She is learning from our goaltender coach Francois Bourbeau; she definitely has areas to improve. She is strong at coming up with the puck down low; she is good at getting out of the net and playing big."
In its game Saturday against visiting Clarkson, Princeton didn't start as big as it had the night before. The Tigers fell behind 1-0 in the first period before knotting the game at 1-1 in the second period on a goal by Pearce. The game ended in a 1-1 stalemate as Young made 29 saves to preserve the tie.
"Clarkson is one of the most disciplined teams we play," said Kampersal, whose club moved to 2-0-2 with the tie. "We just couldn't get things generated in the first period. We spent a lot of bullets Friday night, it took us a while to get going."
Junior forward Oakley has been a top gun for Princeton so far this season as she leads the team with seven points on four goals and three assists.
"She is one of the most enjoyable players to watch in my 11 years of coaching," said Kampersal. "Just when you think she is stuck, she will come up with something special. Her two goals Friday were good but her assist to Kim Pearce was like an NHL play. It's great to see that kind of creativity and poise."
Although his team is undefeated after its first four games, Kampersal sees plenty of room for improvement. "When we're on, we can be as competitive as anyone," asserted Kampersal. "We haven't strung 60 minutes together yet; we need to work on our conditioning and consistency."
With Princeton on fall break this week, the Tigers will get some extra ice time. "This week we get to practice twice a day," said Kampersal, whose team faces what is annually a tough road swing as it plays at Brown on November 3 and then travels to Yale a day later.
"We need to work on the power play and penalty kills. We've been rushing through things, we should have the time to develop some chemistry."
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