Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 43
 
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
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ICEBREAKER: Princeton University women’s hockey defenseman Katherine Dineen races up the ice in action last winter. Dineen, a senior who was named as the top defensive defenseman in the ECAC Hockey League last year, will be a key figure for Princeton this winter in her final campaign. The Tigers open their 2008-09 season by hosting Connecticut on October 24 and 25.

PU Women’s Hockey Opening With UConn, Will Rely on Defense as Offense Develops

Bill Alden

When the Princeton University women’s ice hockey team opens its 2008-09 season this Friday by hosting Connecticut, fans at Baker Rink can be excused if it seems like they are looking at teams that are a mirror image of each other.

“They are similar to us,” said Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal in assessing the matchup with 4-2-2 UConn, who the Tigers will host on October 24 and 25.

“They play good defense, they have a really good goalie. They struggled to score against us last year, we had 0-0 and 1-1 ties. It will be a gritty 60 minutes; there will be mistakes and the team that makes the fewest should win.”

Kampersal, whose team is coming off of a 14-12-6 season which saw it fall to Clarkson in the first round of the ECAC Hockey League playoffs, is confident his defense will keep mistakes to a minimum.

“We have five solid returners,” said Kampersal, who is welcoming back senior Katherine Dineen together with juniors Stephanie Denino and Maddie Endicott and sophomores Sasha Sherry and Laura Martindale. “When they play together, they have the ability to control a game.”

The two headliners along the blue line figure to be Dineen (4 goals and 16 assists last season) and Sherry, who has 21 points last season and made the U.S. U-22 team this summer.

“Dineen brings it everyday,” said Kampersal of the St. Paul, Minn. native who was named as the top defensive defender in the ECACH last season.

“When she skates, she is speeding along and it slows the game because the other team is just watching her. She is a good defender and when the puck gets in the neutral zone, she can really help on transition. Sherry gets better each and every day. She spent the summer playing with some of the best players in the world and that has to help you. She has good puck skills and she is quicker to the puck and her pivots are better.”

The ability of goaltender Kristen Young to stop the puck made her Princeton’s most valuable player last season as she posted a goals against average 2.04 in starting all 32 of the Tigers’ games.

“Younger lives, eats, breathes the game,” said Kampersal of the Calgary, Alb. native who was invited to the tryout camp for Canada’s U-22 team and should get some rest this year with freshman Rachel Weber and senior Meg Murray as back-ups.

“She made a good impression at the Hockey Canada camp. She was a little banged up and they are going to be watching her this season.”

Kampersal hopes that his offense will be something to watch as the Tigers look to score more than the 2.5 goals a game they averaged last year.

“We have a balanced offense, the returning players are good positionally,” said Kampersal, whose crew of returning forwards includes senior Christine Foster together with juniors Melanie Wallace and Julie Flynn.

“Wallace, Flynn, and Foster all had good summers, they came back as better hockey players. We are looking for Wallace to fill up the space left by the seniors in terms of goal scoring. Foster is a really good all-around player for us; she is good on the power play.”

The Tigers should also get a lift offensively from a trio of freshmen Danielle DiCesare, Paula Romanchuk, and Julie Johnson.

“The new players bring a lot of enthusiasm,” said Kampersal, a former Princeton men’s hockey star who is in the 13th year heading the women’s program at his alma mater and brings a 186-154-34 record into the season.

“They will make an impact right away. Ramanchuk has skills that are like Marykate Oakley (last year’s leading scorer in her senior season).”

Over last weekend, Princeton showed some skills as it topped the Bluewater Hawks 5-4 in an exhibition game on Friday and then battled Yale and Brown in two-period scrimmages the next day.

“We saw that we’ll be able to defend and get loose on the break out,” said Kampersal in assessing the preseason action.

“We need to focus on creating scoring chances. Friday night was not great, we got a lead and then we got a little overconfident. We grinded all day against Yale and Brown. We came back from a 2-0 deficit against Yale. I think that’s how it’s going to go this season, we will compete for 60 minutes and skate hard.”

Kampersal knows things are going to be hard this winter in ECACH play. “I think we have the potential to grow,” said Kampersal, who guided Princeton to a fifth place finish in the ECACH regular season standings last winter.

“We have been in the four-to-seven range in the league the last few years and we should be around that. The league has tightened up and every night is tough.”

If Princeton is to crack the top four, it will need its stellar defense to be even more stingy while its offense works on finding a rhythm.

“We need Younger to be great and the defense to be there every night,” said Kampersal.

“We need to have a goals against average of under two. We need to keep chipping away on the offensive end. If we are around 20-22 percent on the power play, that would be a big help. I think we will be able to keep most games close.”

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