November 1, 2017

PU Men’s Hockey Tops Holy Cross in Opener As Freshman Yochim Enjoys Superb Debut

COMING OUT PARTY: Princeton University men’s hockey player Reid Yochim controls the puck last Sunday as Princeton hosted Holy Cross in its season opener. Freshman defenseman Yochim made quite a debut, tallying an assist and a goal to help the Tigers defeat the Crusaders 4-2. Princeton opens ECAC Hockey play this weekend when it hosts Colgate on November 3 and Cornell on November 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Reid Yochim couldn’t wait to hit the ice last Sunday for his debut with the Princeton University men’s hockey team as it hosted Holy Cross in its season opener.

“There is a lot of built up emotion and a lot of energy that has been inside of me and that is just what I try to bring out there,” said defenseman Yochim. “It was an unbelievable atmosphere and an unbelievable feeling.”

The 5’7, 180-pound Yochim provided production along with energy, tallying a goal and an assist to help the Tigers prevail 4-2 over the Crusaders before a crowd of 1,195 at Baker Rink.

“It is definitely faster; it is definitely a step up from juniors, the way everyone thinks the game,” said Yochim, a native of Port Robinson, Ontario, reflecting on his introduction to college hockey.

“This is a really tough league now. A lot of players are coming here and playing. There are a lot of good players and teams are doing well.”

Yochim helped Princeton get up to speed, assisting on a goal by junior star Max Veronneau to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead 3:32 into the second period.

“That was kind of a broken play; I didn’t see any options off the side boards,” said Yochim.

“I saw Max coming across and gave him a little chip pass there and he caught it unbelievably.”

Midway through the period, Yochim came through, tallying his first career goal on a power play as Princeton went up 3-1.

“We keep two defensemen up top and we try to move it really quick on the power play to get them to start running around,” said Yochim.

“We held patient at the line and [Alex] Riche made a nice pass over. I didn’t see much of an opening but I just tried to keep it five inches off the ice; it was a seeing-eye shot.”

While Yochim was thrilled to get on the scoresheet in his college debut, that is not his main focus.

“Whenever I get a chance to go out, whether it be once a game or multiple times a game, I have just got to make sure that I play my game and just contribute as much as I can,” said Yochim.

Yochim has been taking advantage of the chance to soak up lessons from the team’s veteran defensemen.

“It is fun to watch them,” said Yochim. “It is just their patience really in all situations. It helps to calm me down and I can build off of that. It is definitely fast out there. It has helped me to slow the game down and get in synch.”

Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty liked the way his experienced players were in synch from the start.

“It is the guys’ maturity, everyone came back stronger,” said Fogarty, who got goals from senior Eric Robinson and sophomore Jackson Cressey in addition to the tallies by Veronneau and Yochim. “We have depth now and once we roll four lines, anybody can score.”

With Princeton having started last winter by going 0-6-1 before getting its first victory, Fogarty was thrilled to get in the win column on opening day.

“You start a new season and that first win is big,” said Fogarty. “It took us until Thanksgiving last year to capture that win so this one is big to get on day one. I thought it was a great first step and I am glad we got this step earlier than we have in the past.”

Freshman goalie Ryan Ferland stepped up in his debut, making 38 saves and looking sharp throughout.

“I thought he played really well today; he was a little tentative and nervous before the game but he settled in right away,” said Fogarty.

“He did a great job for a first game to get his first win. It alleviates pressure and gives him the assurance for himself that he knows that he can play at this level. We all know that; now it is “I can do this” so that is big for goalies.”

Fogarty credited Yochim with showing self assurance on the ice as well. “He scored a goal; it was good,” said Fogarty. “There are some things we are going to tighten up with our defense. With the young guys, the defense position is very tough to transition. It was a good start for Reid.”

The Princeton penalty kill played tough, surrendering just one goal in seven Holy Cross power plays.

“I thought we did well in the shot lanes,” said Fogarty. “Our penalty kill is built on hard work with stops and starts. We had a freshman in there with Jake Paganelli and he did well. We won the special teams; we had one on the extra attacker and the power play.”

With Princeton hosting Colgate on November 3 and Cornell on November 4 to open ECAC Hockey play, Fogarty is looking for the Tigers to keep working hard.

“There are things to build upon,” said Fogarty. “To get that first win is huge; anybody across the board says it. Now, it is take the next step. Now we are in league play and it is get the first win in league play.”

Yochim, for his part, is fired up to get into ECACH action. “Every game this season is going to be a battle,” said Yochim. “That is what college hockey is and that is what makes it really fun.”