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Vol. LXIV, No. 29
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
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(Photo Courtesy of Philadelphia Flyers)

POWER TRIP: Darroll Powe chases down the puck in action this past winter for the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL. Former Princeton University standout Powe helped the Flyers make the Stanley Cup finals last month and is still savoring the team’s playoff run.

After Helping Flyers Make Stanley Cup Finals, PU Alum Powe Still Savoring Playoff Journey

Ed Benkin

Skating in front of the Princeton University fans at Baker Rink was a huge thrill for men’s hockey star Darroll Powe.

But the hockey adventure that culminated for Powe in late June put him on a much bigger stage.

Powe, a second-year player with the Philadelphia Flyers, helped the club make a remarkable run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

For Powe, the journey from Baker Rink to the doorstep of hockey immortality is something that is still hard to believe.

“I still have to pinch myself every day,” said Powe, a 2007 Princeton graduate who hails from Kanata, Ontario.

“It’s been a great run here the past few years. The opportunity to play at Princeton was an unbelievable experience. Now, to continue my career and play in the Stanley Cup Finals is a dream come true.”

Powe played in all 23 playoff games for the Flyers. He recorded only one assist but his point total doesn’t tell the story of his effectiveness.

The rugged 5’11, 212-pound Powe has emerged as a solid defensive center and one of the Flyers top penalty killers. He helped the seventh-seeded Flyers advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.

Stepping onto the ice for his first Stanley Cup Finals was an experience Powe will always remember.

“It was pretty wild,” Powe said. “The whole playoffs were just an unbelievable experience, but to step on the ice for the finals in Chicago with the great fans they have there and the great atmosphere was pretty cool.”

Powe and his teammates pushed the favored Blackhawks before Chicago clinched the Cup on Patrick Kane’s overtime goal in Game 6. It was a devastating moment for the Flyers, who came within two wins of capturing hockey’s Holy Grail.

Now that time has passed and the physical and emotional playoff wounds are healing, Powe has been able to put the entire playoff run in perspective.

“It’s a mix of emotions,” said Powe. “It’s good to finally get a rest and de-stress. But at the same time, it’s a little disappointing not finishing what we started. There’ll be some inspiration and motivation this summer to get back at it.”

This was no ordinary run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Philadelphia needed to win a shootout against the Rangers on the final day of the regular season just to reach the playoffs. The Flyers also found themselves down 3-0 to the Boston Bruins in the second round but became the third team in NHL history to come back and win a series after losing the first three games.

“We accomplished a lot as a team this year,” said Powe. “It was really an improbable run. We were a team that just never gave up and believed in each other. When things got bad, we just stepped up our game and made it to the finals.”

In becoming a key player for the Flyers, Powe has come a long way from his PU days where he scored 60 points and served as team captain during his senior campaign.

After he completed his run with the Tigers in 2007, Powe went directly to the Flyers AHL affiliate at the time, the Philadelphia Phantoms where he had four points in 11 games. Powe recorded nine goals and 14 assists during his 2007-08 campaign. He played 60 games for the Flyers the following season and has become a fixture thanks to his defensive tenacity.

Powe had to make a different kind of adjustment this winter. When Flyers head coach John Stevens was fired early in the season, Peter Laviolette took over behind the bench.

While Laviolette took a tougher approach to his players than Stevens, he also coached a style that was perfectly suited for the way Powe plays the game.

“He kind of stepped things up,” said Powe, who scored 15 points on nine goals and six assists in 63 appearances during the 2009-10 regular season.

“He allowed our offense to take over and really pressure teams. We used our skating and forechecking and that worked to our advantage. It worked well for us when we were playing the right way.”

After being part of a Flyers team that bowed out in the first round of the playoffs a year ago, Powe learned some valuable lessons en route to his first appearance in the finals.

“You really have to take the playoffs one game at a time,” explained Powe.

“You realize if you win the next game you wake up the next day and you have another best-of-one. If you really focus on that, it makes things a lot easier.”

Powe has the chance to play with one of the best defensemen in the game. Flyer defenseman Chris Pronger is not only a future Hall-of-Famer, but he is also one of the most intimidating players in hockey. His reputation both on and off the ice is legendary and Powe said Pronger was a strong influence throughout the playoff run.

“He’s obviously a huge guy for our team,” said Powe. “He played 30 minutes every night and just never panicked. He was always just calm and cool. You need that with a young team. You have a guy who’s been there before and that was really good for our team.”

As Powe and the Flyers continued to advance, Princeton fans across the country began rooting for another team in orange and black. Powe said he received a flood of good wishes from people connected with Princeton during the Flyers march to the finals.

“That was a fun part of it,” Powe said. “I’d get to the phone after every game and see all of the text messages and e-mails. It’s great having all of that support.”

Powe still keeps a close eye on his alma mater and is proud to represent Princeton in the National Hockey League. He is part of a growing contingent of Tigers who have migrated to the professional ranks.

“The Princeton program has really come a long way since I got there,” said Powe. “Guy Gadowsky [PU head coach] is a big factor in that. There are 16 guys from Princeton playing in pro hockey right now. It’s a growing program and one that’s establishing itself in the pros.”

Now that Powe has clearly established himself with the Flyers, there is every reason to believe he’ll get another chance to one day lift the Stanley Cup.

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