December 7, 2016

Shaking Things Up to Break Out of Doldrums, Princeton Women’s Hockey Routs RPI, Union

SWITCHED UP: Princeton University women’s hockey player Kelsey Koelzer guards the defensive zone in a game earlier this season. Last weekend, senior star Koelzer was moved up to forward from defense and responded with three goals and an assist in a 4-0 win over Rensselaer on Friday and an assist in a 7-0 win at Union the next day. Princeton, now 7-6-1 overall and 5-4-1 ECAC Hockey, hosts Mercyhurst for a two-game set on December 10 and 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Legendary football coach Bill Parcells is well known for his declaration that “you are what your record says you are.”

As Princeton University women’s hockey team came into last weekend at 6-7-1, Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal believed that the Tigers were more talented than the record indicated but acknowledged that some untimely lapses had justifiably left it under .500.

“In past years when we played teams sometimes we can’t get the puck over the red line and teams are better than us,” said Kampersal. “But this year, I really think we should be 12-1; we are beating ourselves in a lot of areas so we deserve the record that we do have.”

Coming off a rough two-game set at Boston University at the end of November which saw the Tigers lose 4-1 and 4-3 in overtime, Kampersal was looking to switch things up a a little bit as Princeton played at Rensselaer on December 2 and at Union a day later.

“We moved Kelsey (Koelzer) up with (Karlie) Lund and (Carly) Bullock,” said Kampersal of the decision which paid huge dividends as Koelzer tallied three goals and an assist to spark a 4-0 win over RPI.

“I don’t know if it is a permanent solution but it was trying to get her going; she had a great game against RPI. Kelsey has been great in her time here, no question, but I think she was pressing a little bit in the back so it was just to give her a change of pace, a little bit of confidence. Going into next week I am not sure what will go on but it was a good weekend for her to get it going.”

Against Union, the Tigers really got going as seven different players scored goals in a 7-0 rout of the Dutchwomen.

“It was pretty cool to have the scoring spread out like that,” said Kampersal, who got goals from Kiersten Falck, Claire Thompson, Cassidy Tucker, Carly Bullock, Emily Atcherkirch, Molly Strabley, and Karlie Lund in the win as the Tigers improved to 7-6-1 overall and 5-4-1 ECAC Hockey.

“Union was playing really well in the game with 10 minutes to go and then we got them at the end there; it was good to see everybody step up for sure.”

Kampersal credited junior Falck and senior Fiona McKenna with stepping up over the weekend.

“I think Falck always skates pretty hard; she plays in the middle,” said Kampersal.

“She did a good job of getting us going against Union on Saturday. Fiona was a center her first two years and hasn’t played there in a year and a half. She moved into the middle this weekend. She was playing a position she hasn’t played in a while, jumped in there, and did well.”

The Tigers got superb play from their goalies in the sweep as freshman Steph Neatby made 27 saves on Friday in earning her first collegiate shutout while junior Alysia DaSilva had 19 stops against Union.

“Steph was out with a concussion so she is returning to form; I don’t know if she is quite there yet but she is pretty close,” said Kampersal.

“She is healthy and competing. I think that is going to make Sills better, the fact that we have two good goalies going against one another. We will see down the stretch if one emerges or not. It was nice for both of them to get a shutout for sure.”

Kampersal is hoping that the wins over RPI and Union will get the Tigers on a nice run.

“We do need to get rolling, hopefully this is it,” said Kampersal, whose team hosts Mercyhurst for a two-game set on December 10 and 11.

“The break is coming. If we do well against Mercyhurst to keep it going then the break won’t come at a great time but the kids need a little bit of a breather.”

Princeton doesn’t have a breather this weekend even though Mercyhurst is bringing a 6-11-1 record into its trip to Baker Rink.

“They have an awesome coaching staff, they get the kids to play really hard all the time,” said Kampersal.

“They have been good forever, it seems like they make the tournament every year. I think they are having an OK season this year. They have to travel a lot to games so they do play tough teams. They are a tough team so we will have our hands full.”