August 16, 2017

PU Men’s Hockey Star Veronneau Hits Vegas, Getting Taste of NHL Before Junior Season

MAX EFFORT: Max Veronneau battles in front of the goal in action last winter during his sophomore season for the Princeton University men’s hockey team. This summer, rising junior Veronneau took part in two National Hockey League Development Camps, skating with the Vegas Golden Knights and the Calgary Flames. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Max Veronneau got the chance to enjoy himself in Las Vegas for a few days this summer, but it had nothing to do with hitting the casinos or sampling the city’s glittering nightlife.

Instead, Princeton University men’s hockey star forward Veronneau spent his time in Sin City on the ice, taking part in the inaugural Development Camp for the Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team in the National Hockey League that is making its debut in the 2017-18 season.

The camp involved two-a-day practices, off-ice workouts and seminars involving such subjects as nutrition and dealing with the media, among others. The program culminated with scrimmages open to the public.

“It was actually a lot of fun, there were quite a few fans at the practices and the scrimmages,” said rising junior Veronneau, a 6’0, 180-pound native of Ottawa, Ontario who was in Vegas from June 27-July 1. “The city seemed pretty excited about it; I think it should do well.”

Veronneau was excited by how he performed on the ice. “I felt pretty good out there,” said Veronneau. “I held my own in the scrimmages so that made me feel good about myself.”

Taking what he learned in Vegas, Veronneau headed to Canada to take part in the Calgary Flames Development Camp, which started on July 3.

“Just getting used to the whole development camp experience was nice,” said Veronneau, who was joined by Tiger teammate and fellow rising junior Josh Teves at the Calgary program.

“Going to Calgary was good, especially going with Josh. It was helpful to have a friend there.”

For Veronneau, who aspires to play pro hockey after his Princeton career, getting exposed to the world of NHL was an eye-opening experience.

“It helps set the bar of where I need to be in two years after I graduate,” said Veronneau.

“These other kids are the ones I am going to be competing against later on. Now I know which areas of my game I need to improve on and work on.”

Helping Princeton show a big improvement last winter as it went 15-16-2 after winning a total of 15 games over the three previous seasons was a good experience for Veronneau.

“Our team really jelled this year,” asserted Veronneau. “In my first year we lost a lot of close games. This year, we learned how to win games and I think we just played a lot more as a team. I thought that really helped.”

The line of Veronneau along with classmates Ryan Kuffner and Alex Riche helped the Tigers jell as it provided much of the team’s offensive punch, as the trio produced a total of 37 goals and 51 assists.

“It is lot of fun playing with Alex and Ryan, they are both very good players,” said Veronneau.

“Playing first year all together made it easier coming into this season because we already know how each other plays.”

Veronneau’s play was a revelation for the Tigers as he tallied 11 goals and 24 assists, more than doubling his output from his freshman year (11 goals, six assists). In reflecting on his increased output, he pointed to the bond with friend and fellow Ottawa resident Kuffner.

“I am very proud of myself but I think it all come from the competition between everybody,” said Veronneau, who earned Second-Team All-ECAC and Second-Team All-Ivy League honors.

“Ryan and I are very good friends. We are neighbors with each other back home and we keep pushing each other to get better. I think we will keep pushing each other from here on out and hopefully we will do even better this year.”

In Veronneau’s view, the Tigers have what it takes to do very well collectively this winter.

“I believe we can play for a top four in the ECAC and hopefully get a bye and have a home playoff series; that is always nice,” said Veronneau.

“We are confident in everybody and we are confident that the freshmen this year will have a big role on the team as well.”