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Vol. LXII, No. 44
 
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
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FAST TRACK: Princeton University men’s hockey star forward Lee Jubinville tracks down the puck in action last winter. Jubinville, who was named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year in 2007-08 and earned first-team All-American honors, will be a top gun for Princeton this winter. The Tigers open their 2008-09 season by playing at Brown on October 31 in a non-league contest.

PU Men’s Hockey Seen as ECACH Favorite but Focusing on Daily Effort as Season Opens

Bill Alden

When Guy Gadowsky took over the Princeton University men’s hockey program in 2004, he faced a daunting reclamation project.

The Tigers had gone a combined 8-50-4 in the two seasons prior to Gadowsky’s arrival from Alaska-Fairbanks.

Installing a free-wheeling style and showing a knack for bringing in talented players, Gadowsky lifted Princeton from the ECAC Hockey League cellar to the penthouse.

Last winter, the program’s reversal of fortune culminated with Princeton winning the ECACH tournament and becoming one of the feel-good stories in college hockey as the Tigers broke into the Top 20 in the national polls.

With the Tigers poised to start the 2008-09 season this weekend with a non-league contest at Brown, Princeton is now the toast of the ECACH, being picked first in the media and coaches preseason polls.

While Gadowsky is proud of the recognition his program has received, he knows his players can’t forget what got them to their present perch.

“We fought and clawed our way to get recognition,” said Gadowsky, who guided Princeton to a 21-14 record last season.

“Now that we got some, we can’t forget what it’s like to fight and claw. We need to concentrate on the process, not the outside expectations.”

Gadowsky and the Tigers are not that impressed with the polls. “It was not that long ago that we were picked last; we didn’t pay attention to it then and we are not paying attention to it now,” said Gadowsky, whose team is currently ranked ninth in one national poll.

“The polls are less accurate in our league than in any other. Dartmouth was the last seeded last season and they had a goal differential of 14. Two seasons ago, we played the 11th place team [Brown] in the playoffs and they had a differential of four. The ECAC has been so unbelievably tight the last four years from top to bottom.”

While the rankings don’t fire the Tigers up, there is plenty of enthusiasm among the players as they hit the ice for the 2008-09 campaign.

“Some three years ago the leaders on the team created a real positive environment where the guys enjoy themselves and have fun,” said Gadowsky.

“I am seeing the same excitement and enjoyment and pride in being part of the team.”

The Tigers are dealing with the graduation of one of the program’s top leaders, defenseman Mike Moore, who produced one of the great individual seasons in Princeton history as he earned All-ECACH and All-American honors.

“Are you talking about his offense, his hitting on defense, or leadership?” said Gadowsky, when asked about the void left by Moore, who is now playing with the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate in Worcester, Mass. “It’s like losing three players.”

The Tigers do have a corps of solid defensemen who should help keep Princeton solid along the blue line.

“We have seven guys back there,” said Gadowsky. “We are looking for Taylor Fedun and Derrick Pallis to help offensively and Jody Pederson to be tough defensively. Brad Schroeder is a fantastic leader. When you look at the stat sheet, he doesn’t jump out at you but he led our team in blocked shots by 30 or something like that. The guys look to him for what he stands for and how he plays.”

Princeton will certainly be looking for big things from junior goaltender Zane Kalemba, who is coming off a superb campaign which saw him post a 2.38 goals against average and earn the Most Outstanding Player award in the ECACH tournament.

“Kalemba is unbelievably calm,” asserted Gadowsky, who noted that sophomore back-up Alan Reynolds had a productive off-season and is in much better condition.

“He is the most calm, mentally strong athlete I have ever been around. Kalemba will start as the main guy; it’s tough to argue with what he accomplished last year.

Up front, the Tigers’ Big Three of Lee Jubinville, Brett Wilson, and Cam MacIntyre certainly accomplished a lot last year.

Jubinville scored a team-high 39 points last season in being named the ECACH Player of the Year and earning first-team All-American honors. Wilson tallied 36 points while MacIntyre chipped in 31.

“We’re thrilled to have Jubs, Willie and Cam back,” said Gadowsky of seniors Jubinville and Wilson and junior Macintyre.

“It’s definitely a luxury to have players like that who have proven they can score in this league but that doesn’t mean they are going to duplicate what they did last year. We will need some breaks and puck luck for that to happen.”

The players have each shown the work ethic on the ice that results in good breaks.

“The good thing is that they are all good all-around players,” added Gadowsky. “They are good on defense and the power play and that really helps us. They take pride in the other aspects of the game.”

Gadowsky is also expecting senior Brandon Kushniruk and junior Kevin Kaiser to make key contributions.

“Kush played an extremely important role last year; he’s a leader in the mold of Mike Moore,” said Gadowsky.

“He’s a tough Saskatchewan kid; he’s a fantastic leader. For us to be successful, we will have to rely on him. Kaiser is emerging as an important player, both in terms of what he stands for and how he plays.”

The Tigers should get some inspiring play for freshman forwards Brodie Zuk and Marc Hagel, the younger brother of graduated alternate captain Kyle Hagel.

“Zuk is a good two-way player,” said Gadowsky, whose team posted a 6-2 win over Western Ontario in an exhibition game last Saturday.

“Hagel is like his brother — an extremely strong, extremely honest player. He doesn’t take any shortcuts on the ice; he will add a lot to our team character.”

Princeton’s 5-1 loss to North Dakota in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last season showed the Tigers that they can’t take any shortcuts if they want to earn a place among the nation’s elite teams.

“As a coaching staff, we think it was good,’ said Gadowsky, reflecting on the loss to the Fighting Sioux.

“We know we can play with a team like that; we outshot them 2-1. We would love to have the honor of another opportunity like that but a lot of things have to happen before we get another chance like that. We can’t get caught up in things; we need to do what we do.”

If the Tigers keep doing their fighting and clawing, they should continue moving up in the world of college hockey.

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