Feeling at Home with Tiger Women’s Hockey, Jersey Native Monihan Stepping Up on Blue Line
RIGHT AT HOME: Princeton University women’s hockey player Kate Monihan fires the puck up the ice in recent action. Freshman defenseman Monihan, a former Lawrenceville School standout, has helped Princeton go 10-3 overall and 8-3 ECAC Hockey so far this season. Princeton heads to Las Vegas this weekend for a two-game set with Ohio State from December 14-15 in its last action before the holiday break. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Although Kate Monihan is only in her freshman season for the Princeton University women’s hockey team, she has already spent a lot of time around Hobey Baker Rink.
Growing up in nearby Moorestown and playing for the Lawrenceville School and the New Jersey Colonials club program, Monihan has plenty of memories surrounding the historic rink
“I remember skating out here for a club game against the Princeton Stars; it is so interesting coming back and seeing how much it has changed since I was that little mite,” said the 5’5 Monihan.
“When I was 10, I was at the Princeton hockey camp, my mom showed me a picture of me out there. It is pretty incredible to go from that kid at camp to now being here. I am really grateful for the opportunity.”
Last Friday, Monihan got the opportunity to start on defense with senior star Claire Thompson as sixth-ranked Princeton hosted No. 4 Cornell.
“It is incredible to play with Claire, she is such a great role model,” said Monihan.
“Given her time with Team Canada, I learn so much just playing with her. Every time I start with her it is an opportunity to get better and see what I can do out there.”
Against Cornell, Princeton did some good things in the first two periods as it generated 17 shots but found itself trailing 2-0.
“In the locker room and on the bench, we had a lot of energy and momentum,” said Monihan.“We were really confident in how we were playing.”
But with the Tigers getting called for four penalties in the first 10 minutes of the third period, Cornell sized momentum with three unanswered goals. Tiger sophomore star Maggie Connors tallied with 3:55 left in regulation but that was not nearly enough as the Big Red prevailed 5-1.
“Penalties happen but the biggest thing is that we didn’t stop,” said Monihan.
“We got a goal, we kept fighting, we did our best to kill penalties. The fight is there and it is capitalizing on that when we need to.”
A day later against Colgate, the Tigers showed their fight, overcoming a 4-3 deficit in the second period to win 7-5, improving to 10-3 overall and 8-3 ECAC Hockey. In the wake of the loss to Cornell, Monihan was confident that Princeton would bounce back against the Raiders.
“We need to move on from today,” said Monihan. “We can learn from this but right now our heads are focusing on coming in tomorrow, coming out strong and winning this game.”
Princeton head coach Cara Morey liked the way her team came out of the gate against Cornell.
“I actually felt confident going into the third,” said Morey. “The chances were back and forth. We outchanced them in the beginning. They got a couple of bounces and we didn’t get the bounces. It was still a really even game.”
Morey acknowledged that the game got away from the Tigers as they lost their cool.
“We started taking penalties and you can’t come back when you are in the penalty box and a man down,” said Morey.
“That is the big lesson for them, learning how to play intense and still keep their heads about them. We are not going to win games against the No. 4 team in the nation when we are spending time in the penalty box.”
Like Monihan, Morey believed that the Tigers would come through against Colgate.
“It is probably the toughest weekend of the year so we have to come ready and we got to flush this for now,” said Morey, whose team heads to Las Vegas for a two-game set with Ohio State from December 14-15 in its last action before the holiday break.
Morey likes the mental toughness Monihan is showing in emerging as a key defenseman for the Tigers.
“Kate is really coming along, she is really getting her confidence,” said Morey.
“She is starting to really understand the systems; I am really impressed with how she is responding. You get a lot of confidence when you can play with a senior captain as your defense partner. It allows you to play a little more freely and I think that has really helped Kate.”
Monihan, for her part, is gaining more and more confidence, crediting the team’s veteran stars with helping her adjust to the college game.
“I think the biggest thing is the speed in terms of decision making; everything is a couple of seconds quicker than any type of hockey I have played,” said Monihan, who has two assists so far this season.
“There has been so much support from people like Claire and Sarah Fillier. They are always telling us to look for this, try this. They have been so helpful in the transition, helping us learn.”