After Big Junior Season for PU Men’s Hockey, Robinson Skated in 2 NHL Development Camps
DEVELOPING CONFIDENCE: Eric Robinson glides up the ice last winter in his junior season with the Princeton University men’s hockey team. After totaling 15 points in his first two years with the Tigers, star forward Robinson tallied 21 points on 13 goals and eight assists in the 2016-17 campaign. This summer, Robinson skated in development camps with the Anaheim Ducks and the Boston Bruins of the NHL. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
Last winter, Eric Robinson harnessed his speed to put together a sterling junior campaign for the Princeton University men’s hockey team.
After totaling 15 points in his first two seasons, the 6’2, 200-pound forward from Bellmawr tallied 21 points on 13 goals and eight assists in the 2016-17 season.
“I think confidence is always a big thing in hockey, coming back as a junior, I was just feeling more confident and more comfortable,” said Robinson, reflecting on his progress.
“The coaches did a really good job with me, just teaching me ways to use the skills I have to my advantage rather than hurting me. Things started clicking better for me last year. I was using my speed to create space and then picking my head up and making a play. It was just different ways I can use it to create offense.”
In early March, Robinson created one of the highlights in recent program history, flying through the air to bang in a goal with one second left in regulation against Colgate to force overtime in game two in the best-of-three ECAC Hockey first round series and keep Princeton’s season alive.
“It was crazy, I honestly think I blacked out after I scored,” said Robinson, recalling the dramatic tally which proved to be a turning point as Princeton won the second game in overtime and then defeated the Raiders 2-1 in the decisive third game to win the series.
“I don’t really remember celebrating; I think we fell over when we celebrated. That was the biggest goal I ever scored; it was awesome.”
As a result of Robinson’s big season, he was invited to a pair of National Hockey League camps this summer, skating with Anaheim Ducks from July 1-4 and then heading east to work with the Boston Bruins from July 6-9.
For Robinson, who aspires to play pro hockey after finishing his Princeton career, getting the chance to show his skills to the Ducks organization was a good way to celebrate the Independence Day holiday.
“Anaheim was a lot of fun. They had us get to the rink early in the morning and we did a small workout each day, just teaching us things,” said Robinson.
“We had a couple of separated practices and then a couple of power skating and skills sessions. They are pretty focused now in these camps on development so it is pretty good to get there in the summer.”
The Anaheim experience helped Robinson excel in Boston. “I was pretty nervous the first day in Anaheim, I had a few nerves, shaking some things off but in Boston I was already in skating mode,” said Robinson.
“I definitely felt more comfortable, I am one of the older guys at those camps. There are 1999 birth years being drafted this year and your draft picks the past three or four years so they are all younger than me. That is something I realized once I got there and that helped me with my confidence.”
Building on what he took from the camps, Robinson is bringing extra confidence into his senior season.
“I think it helps a lot, going back to school and having those experiences,” said Robinson.
“It is having lessons I learned out there and skills that I could work on and I could take back to school and maybe teach to some of the younger guys. It helps a ton. Both were really great experiences and just something I can take with me heading into the season.”
Robinson will be taking a big role in leading the younger guys, serving as a co-captain of the Tigers this winter along with classmate and fellow New Jersey native Joe Grabowski, a Lawrenceville, N.J. resident.
“I actually spoke with our captain from last year, Ryan Siiro, and the coaches as well about it, talking about the way he approached it and different things he did,” said Robinson.
“The biggest message is to be yourself, don’t change anything. I think Joe is a little bit more vocal than I am. I really like to lead by example and I think that is something I am trying to take into my senior season, going into every day with the mentality to get better and work as hard as I possibly can and show that to the younger guys.”
Although Princeton made huge progress last winter as it went 15-16-1 after going 5-23-3 in 2015-16, Robinson knows that the Tigers aren’t guaranteed to keep improving.
“Just because we had a better season doesn’t mean it is naturally going to happen now,” said Robinson.
“We won a series, now it is: can we win two, can we win three, can we win ECAC, and can we go to the NCAA tournament? Expectations can be higher now that we had a better season but at the same time we have to remain focused and not expect it to happen without really working for it.”