Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 42
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
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POWER SKATING: Princeton University women’s hockey forward Charissa Stadnyk skates hard up the ice in a game last winter. Sophomore Stadnyk figures to be in full throttle this weekend as Princeton opens its 2009-10 season with games at the University of Vermont on October 23 and 24.

Learning from Last Season’s Playoff Exit, PU Women’s Hockey Hungry for Big Winter

Bill Alden

Heading into the ECAC hockey playoffs this past March, the Princeton University women’s hockey team was sizzling.

Going 16-4-2 after a 2-5 start, the Tigers rose to third in the ECACH final standings and appeared poised to make a stirring playoff run.

But Princeton’s postseason only lasted only two days as sixth-seeded Renssalaer and its hot goalie Sonja van der Bliek slammed the door on the Tigers, giving up only one goal in two games as it swept the best-of-three opening round series.

Longtime Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal acknowledged that the early exit stung his proud team.

“We are usually pretty good at getting over losses but the loss to RPI was semi-devastating,” said Kampersal, whose team ended the winter with an 18-11-2 record.

As Princeton starts its 2009-10 campaign with games at the University of Vermont on October 23 and 24, Kampersal is confident that the disappointment over the Rensselaer series is in the rear view mirror.

“They all had great summers; they came back in better shape than when they left,” said Kampersal, referring to his veteran players. “Now all that is water under the bridge.”

Princeton figures to be in good shape at forward with most of its offensive firepower returning.

Kampersal will welcome back seniors Melanie Wallace (six goals, 16 assists in 2008-09), Julie Flynn (one goal, four assists), and Caroline Park (one goal, two assists) together with a stellar sophomore group of Paula Romanchuk (nine goals, nine assists), Heather Landry (seven goals, nine assists), Charissa Stadnyk (six goals, eight assists), Danielle DiCesare (seven goals, six assists), and Julie Johnson (five goals, eight assists).

“I think we are balanced on attack, I am looking for Mel and Flynn to provide leadership,” said Kampersal, who is in his 14th season guiding the Tigers and has an overall record of 204-156-36.

“Most of the sophomores will play together to keep continuity. They are very close and they are very fundamentally sound. They play well offensively and defensively; they are very good players. They carried the team for of the season and then petered out and the upperclassmen and seniors took over for the last .”

Princeton is looking for its trio of freshman forwards, Kelly Cooke, Corey Stearns, and Alex Kinney, to make an impact.

“All three freshmen are very good, all had good prep careers,” asserted Kampersal.

“They are learning a bit; how good they will be depends on their rate of progress.”

Junior defenseman Sasha Sherry has progressed into becoming one of the blue-chip players in program history. In 2008-09, the 6’0 Sherry scored 22 points on eight goals and 14 assists and became the team’s first All-American honoree when she received second-team recognition.

“A lot is depending on Sasha; she is a game breaker,” said Kampersal of the Lehighton, Pa. native who was one of the final cuts this summer for the 2010 U.S. Olympics team. “She can do so many things and really help you on offense.”

Senior captain Stephanie Denino helps the Tigers with leadership and feisty play on the blue line.

“Denino is a great all-around kid who you can always count on,” said Kampersal of Denino who had two goals and 10 assists last winter.

“The team trusts her; she brings a lot of energy and a lot of fight. From a personal standpoint, I like that kind of leader.”

Junior Laura Martindale (four goals, nine assists) has emerged as a quiet force on the Tiger back line.

“Marty got recognized as an all-freshman player,” said Kampersal, whose defensive corps will also include senior Maddie Endicott (two goals, five assists) and freshman Krystyna Bellisario.

“She flies under the radar. She is subtly very good; she knows what she is good at and what her weaknesses are.”

In the past few seasons, goaltending has been a major strength for the Tigers with Kristen Young between the pipes. Young produced 45 career wins, a 1.96 career goals against average, and 14 career shutouts before graduating this past spring.

Sophomore Rachel Weber and freshman Cassie Seguin will be vying for the starting goalie spot as the Tigers begin life after Young. The two have shared time in the preseason and Kampersal indicated that he may rotate them this weekend in Vermont.

“You do have pangs of anxiety but we went through that when Megan [Van Beusekom] and Roxie [Gaudiel] graduated,” said Kampersal, referring to the program’s standout goalies before Young.

“Both Rachel and Cassie are talented; both have played well for their clubs. Cassie has played Under-18 for Canada and so has played against good competition before coming to college. Younger took control of the net and we need them to have that mindset. They both need to work on housecleaning, taking care of rebounds and getting in position to make the second save.”

Kampersal knows that his team will be in a tough position as it gets its season underway this weekend against 3-1 Vermont.

“They have good coaches who have played a lot of hockey and have NHL experience,” said Kampersal.

“They work hard and they are a quick team similar to us. They have been in some early season battles. They beat Clarkson last weekend and they were the No. 4 team in the country.”

With the Tigers hungry to make amends for its early playoff exit last season, Kampersal hopes Princeton can emerge as one of the top teams in the county.

“We want to go for home ice in the playoffs and go for ECAC and Ivy titles,” maintained Kampersal.

“This year is pretty wide open. The players need to take ownership, we need good team chemistry. They need to get to the point that no matter who they are playing against and no matter where they are playing, they just compete.”

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