Princeton Men’s Hockey Prevails in Home Finale As Veronneau Makes More Baker Rink Memories
TO THE MAX: Princeton University men’s hockey player Max Veronneau chases down the puck in recent action. Last Saturday, senior star Veronneau chipped in a goal and an assist as Princeton defeated St. Lawrence 5-3 in its final regular season home game. The Tigers, now 8-16-3 overall and 6-12-2 ECAC Hockey, play at Yale on March 1 and Brown on March 2 to wrap up regular season action. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Over the last four years, Max Veronneau has produced a lot of highlight moments at Hobey Baker Rink for the Princeton University men’s hockey team.
Coming into his final regular season home last Saturday as Princeton hosted St. Lawrence, senior forward Veronneau had amassed 137 points on 47 goals and 90 assists.
Veronneau went out with a bang, creating some final highlights for the Baker Rink fans, tallying a goal and an assist as Princeton pulled away to a 5-3 win over the Saints.
“I have so many good memories here throughout the years,” said Veronneau, a 6’0, 180-pound native of Ottawa, Ontario. “I am glad that we won, that the team played well, and that we got a victory.”
Getting things going for the Tigers, Veronneau tallied a goal 38 seconds into the contest and then picked up an assist on a power play goal by classmate Ryan Kuffner nearly 10 minutes later as Princeton jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
“The puck was rolling, it was a tough one for the goalie to save because it can go anywhere so I was a little lucky,” said Veronneau, recalling his goal.
“It was a great start for us and then we got an early power play goal right after that.”
It ended up being a great night for Princeton’s top line which features Veronneau, Kuffner, and fellow senior Alex Riche.
“We have struggled this season through patches but I think tonight we were dominant,” said Veronneau, reflecting on a game which saw Kuffner end up with two goals and an assist while Riche chipped in a goal and an assist. “We were outplaying them in the offensive zone, we had so many chances.”
Despite the struggles the Tigers have experienced as they have gone 8-16-3 overall and 6-12-2 ECAC Hockey after being ranked in the top 20 early in the season, Veronneau is confident that Princeton can be a force when it gets into postseason play.
“We all believe we are a good team, and we’ve been on the wrong side of couple games but I think we’re playing better now,” said Veronneau.
“We’re more determined to win now and I hope we can keep up this momentum going next weekend and into playoffs.”
Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty was happy to see his team produce a victory in what was, in all likelihood, the team’s last appearance at Baker this winter.
“When you win it is always a great note, we have an outside shot to host,” said Fogarty, whose team is in 11th place in the league standings and would have to jump to eighth place to host a first round best-of-three series over the weekend of March 8-10.
“We need a lot of things to happen but not controlling our destiny that was probably our last home game. It was a good night.”
Mirroring its uneven play this winter, Princeton had some lapses in the win
“We came out hard but I think it was inconsistent,” said Fogarty. “We were soft on the puck in the third period which gave them life. We just have to stay heavy on the puck. It creates a lot more opportunities when we play that way.”
The Tiger top line created a lot of opportunities. “When they play heavy on the puck, they are determined,” said Fogarty of his trio of Veronneau, Kuffner, and Riche.
“There’s a lot of pressure on them to score, we don’t have secondary scoring. So if they don’t get one, they try to cheat a little bit. They’ve gotten back to the process of what makes them successful and I think they had a really good weekend. The Riche goal was very indicative of what that line can do when they are heavy on the puck.”
With Princeton playing at Yale on March 1 and Brown on March 2 to wrap up regular season action, Fogarty is looking for his team to produce another good weekend.
“It was a big step to get our level of play up to where we can make the next step,” said Fogarty. “It is good progress.”
In the view of Veronneau, the Tigers have what it takes to put together a second straight run to the title in the ECACH tournament.
“Last year, we made it really far and it would be kind of sad to go home early this year,” said Veronneau.
“We want to just keep on going and make another run at it. Last year we finished seventh and we won it all so hopefully we will do the same thing again this year.”