January 11, 2017

PU Women’s Hockey Extends Unbeaten Streak to 8, Posting a Weekend Sweep of Dartmouth, Harvard

ON A ROLL: Princeton University women’s hockey player Claire Thompson fires the puck up the ice last Friday against visiting Dartmouth. Freshman defenseman Thompson contributed three assists in the game to help Princeton prevail 4-0. A day later, Thompson and the Tigers edged Harvard 2-1 to extend their unbeaten streak to eight. Princeton, now 12-6-2 overall and 8-4-1 ECAC Hockey, plays at Cornell on January 13 and at Colgate a day later. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As the Princeton University women’s hockey team struggled to a 5-6-1 start this season, one of the low points came in mid-November when the Tigers fell 3-2 in overtime to previously winless Dartmouth.

But having started to right the ship in December, the Tigers brought a six-game unbeaten streak into its rematch with Dartmouth last Friday, primed to turn the tables on the Big Green.

Princeton came out firing, outshooting Dartmouth 17-2 in the first period in taking a 1-0 lead. The Tigers never let up, pulling away to a 4-0 win, building a 44-10 edge in shots.

“We played awesome against Dartmouth; I think they remembered what happened when we played at Dartmouth earlier on and they were looking to play a lot better than they did that day,” said Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal.

“I thought our kids were really fast, they moved the puck really well. They possessed it for a lot of the game. They scored some nice goals, they defended hard. It was a really good all around performance.”

Freshman defenseman Claire Thompson produced an awesome game against the Big Green, chipping in three assists to give her 17 points on the year as she now has five goals and 12 assists.

“Claire has subtly crept up as our fourth leading scorer,” said Kampersal, who got two goals from Carly Bullock against Dartmouth with Karlie Lund and Cassidy Tucker adding one apiece.

“She looks like she is playing with more confidence, enjoying it more, and getting into a regular rhythm. I know we moved her around a little bit between forward and defense but she is a defenseman. She moved the puck well, had good shots on goal. I thought she played really solid.”

A day later against Harvard, the Tigers took a while to find a rhythm, trailing 1-0 after two periods before pulling out a 2-1 victory.

“We didn’t play well in terms of our urgency and awareness, it wasn’t like it was against Dartmouth and Quinnipiac (a 3-2 win on January 1),” said Kampersal, who got 32 saves from freshman goalie Steph Neatby in the win as the Tigers moved to 12-6-2 overall and 8-4-1 ECAC Hockey.

“Neatby was awesome, she kept us in the game. She literally won that game for us, without a doubt. Then we were able to score in the mid-third and (Kiersten) Falck got a power play goal to win it. We will take it, not playing our best against a good team and moving on.”

With Princeton now having gone unbeaten in its last eight games (7-0-1 since a 4-3 loss at Boston University on November 26), Kampersal believes his team is getting in synch.

“I think people are settling into roles more,” said Kampersal.  “We have a little bit of rhythm. We have gotten solid goal tending. We have gotten all of our players back so we have a full roster now. It is a combination of everything. We have played a little more determined. It has worked. We have gotten bounces our way before the streak. I thought we were legitimately beating ourselves with turnovers and things like that. We are not doing that now.”

The Tigers will need to come up with some more determined efforts this weekend as they play at Cornell (9-5-1 overall, 6-2-1 ECACH) on January 13 and at Colgate (15-3-3 overall, 6-2-1 ECACH) a day later.

“Cornell is very good, I thought they were one of the better teams we have played all year when they came to us,” said Kampersal, whose team lost 2-1 to Cornell while rolling to a 7-2 win over Colgate in games played in November at Baker Rink.

“It will be a good test. They have a lot of players coming back from a Hockey Canada team that just played over in Germany so they will be strong. Colgate will be ready for us after our game last time. They only have a few losses so they have had an amazing season. They have amazing scorers; we just hope that we match whatever they bring.”