October 21, 2015

Emphasizing Overall Toughness, Consistency, PU Women’s Hockey Excited for 2015-16 Season

After experiencing a bit of a roller-coaster ride last winter in going 15-14-2, the Princeton University women’s hockey team hopes to be on a more even keel in the upcoming season.

“I think the thing we are working on is mental and physical toughness, being consistent every day, no matter who we play,” said Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal, a former Tiger men’s hockey star who is entering his 20th season guiding the women’s program, compiling a 285-242-53 record.

“It is just giving our best effort. If we have a big win, we need to show up the next day. If we don’t do well in a particular game we need to show up better the next day.”

Showing up earlier for preseason practice should help the Tigers play better from the outset.

“This year we were granted an extra week of practice by the Ivy League which has been helpful so we haven’t had to rush through things,” said Kampersal, whose team starts its 2015-16 campaign with a two-game set at Mercyhurst on October 23-24.

“But that said, our kids are ready to play games. We had a couple of scrimmages this weekend and they are ready for the regular season now.”

Kampersal is confident that his top line of junior Molly Contini (28 points on 16 goals and 12 assists in 2014-15), senior Jaimie McDonell (11 goals, 14 assists) and junior Hilary Lloyd (6 goals, 15 assists) is ready to pick up where it left off last winter.

“Jaimie, Molly, and Hilary will be back and we expect them to produce like they did last year,” said Kampersal. “Right now they are all doing well.”

Princeton is hoping for increased production from such returning veterans as junior Morgan Sly (8 goals, 4 assists), sophomore Kiersten Falck (2 goals, 13 assists), junior Fiona McKenna (3 goals, 4 assists), junior Cassidy Tucker (3 goals, 3 assists)  and senior Cristin Shanahan (5 goals, 4 assists).

“We hope to get more from Sly this year,” added Kampersal. “Falck, McKenna, and Tucker are
playing together and they are all clicking. They look like they have had pretty good chemistry. They have a pretty good skill set, there is a lot of speed and they have been able to keep the puck in the offensive zone for long stretches of time to give us opportunities.”

Two freshmen forwards, Karlie Lund and Keiko DeClerck will get opportunities to shine.

“Karlie has got really good vision, she made a couple of good passes on the power play this weekend so she looked good,” said Kampersal.

“DeClerck is a really fast player. Her role will be a 5-on-5 role and hopefully on the penalty kill as well.”

Kampersal believes that junior Kelsey Koelzer can reprise her role as one of the top scoring defenseman in ECAC Hockey.

“I told her this year would be way tougher than last year because people will be looking to key on her and pay more attention,” said Kampersal of Koelzer, who tallied 26 points on 8 goals and 18 assists last season.

“I thought she had a spectacular year last season; I know she has worked hard and I hope she matches it. She might not match it in production but in terms of her presence and dominance, hopefully she does that.”

The Tigers will need some good work from the rest of the defensive corps, which includes junior Molly Strabley (5 assists), senior Karen MacDonald, sophomore Hannah Sorkin, and sophomore Emily Achterkirch (1 goal, 4 assists) along with a pair of promising freshmen, Stephanie Sucharda and Kimiko Marinacci.

“Hopefully all the d-men step up and do their job,” said Kampersal. “We have two young defensemen who are pretty good players, Stephanie Sucharda and Kimiko Marinacci. Steph is a good offensive defenseman and Kimiko is a really good defender so we are excited about those two kids as well.”

Kampersal is very excited to have senior star goalie Kimberly Newell (a 12-14-2 record in 2014-15 with a goals against average of 2.36 and a .925 save percentage) back for her fourth season as the team’s starting netminder.

“I think Kimberly has a chance to be the best in the league, it is a matter of her being consistent and our team helping her out in front of her,” said Kampersal, who has a solid back-up goalie in sophomore Alysia DaSilva (3-0 record, 0.37 goals against, .980 save percentage).

“She prepares well and is a student of the game. She is passionate about what she does. I expect her to have a dominant senior year.”

Across the board, the Tigers show a passion for the game and each other.

“Our team in general is in the best shape that they have ever been coming off the summer so that is exciting,” said Kampersal.

“The kids are really awesome, the culture is really good. They all help each other out. They are competitive with each other, which is healthy. They are great in school, they are great on campus, so it is a really good group.”

Princeton faces some tough competition this weekend in Mercyhurst (0-3-1).

“They are really, really well coached, they have been in the top 8 for a long time,” said Kampersal.

“They will be really good, they have four games under their belt already. They are a quality team with quality offensive players. Hopefully we’ll go on the road and compete really hard.”

In Kampersal’s view, the Tigers could prove hard to beat this winter if they achieve their goal of daily consistency.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on them but at the same time I do expect a lot,” said Kampersal.

“We can compete for a championship if we do our process every day. We have a good enough group to win.”