December 13, 2017

Junior DeClerck Keeps Up Hot Streak As PU Women’s Hockey Tops Quinnipiac

HOT HAND: Princeton University women’s hockey player Keiko DeClerck controls the puck in a game last season. Last Friday, junior forward DeClerck scored a goal to help Princeton defeat Quinnipiac 3-0. It marked the fourth straight game in which DeClerck scored a goal. Her scoring streak was snapped a day later when the Tigers fell 3-1 at Quinnipiac to drop to 4-9-3 overall and 4-7-1 in ECAC Hockey play. Princeton resumes action when it hosts Boston University for a two-game set on December 30 and 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In her first 73 games with the Princeton University women’s hockey team, Keiko DeClerck scored seven goals.

But with Princeton short on numbers this year, junior forward DeClerck realized that she needed to be more productive at the offensive end. 

“We are a lot smaller team than we are used to,” said DeClerck. “Everyone gets a chance to play, so it is up to everyone to step up.”

DeClerck has stepped up, scoring goals in three straight games as the Tigers prepared to host Quinnipiac last Friday.

“I have never really been getting this lucky before with getting goals,” said DeClerck, a 5’5 native of San Jose, Calif. “We have been having a lot of skill sessions, focusing on scoring.”

With the ECAC Hockey foes locked in a scoreless stalemate early in the third period, DeClerck showed her skill, finding the back of the net with 13:22 remaining in regulation to put the Tigers up 1-0.

“I try to get it on the net and use the other team as a screen,” said DeClerck, recalling her goal.

“First of all, I have been working on it in practice. I think it was [Amanda] Harris who crashed and helped with the screen, It was everyone, [Kiersten] Falck was there too.”

Sparked by that tally, Princeton added two goals by sophomore defenseman Claire Thompson on the way to a 3-0 victory.

“We have been focusing a lot on scoring as a team and practicing that,” said DeClerck. “It was nice to see it all pan out the way we wanted it to.”

Princeton head coach Cara Morey likes what she has been seeing from DeClerck.

“Keiko is on fire right now; that was a nice play and a great shot,” said Morey.

“We do a lot of skill work with them so she is getting confident in her shot. She has to step up now because she is a junior and so she is taking a lead role. That is great.”

Having played six straight road games with its last appearance at Baker Rink coming on November 11, it was great for the Tigers to be on home ice.

“It is so good to be back home; it feels like we haven’t been here since the first couple of games of the season,” said Morey. “It has been long grind for us so it is great to put on the white jerseys again.”

Princeton had to grind things out against the Bobcats, outshooting them 4-2 in the first period before generating some opportunities on the power play in the second and getting eight shots on goal.

“Sometimes if you don’t score off the power play, it can be a little demoralizing,” said Morey.

“But they came out in the third still going hard so I was really proud of that. I didn’t know if we would score but I felt we deserved to be scoring by then.”

Morey is happy to see Thompson help out with the scoring. “Claire has been playing really well,” said Morey. “When we are down to four defensemen, we need that.”

The Tigers also needed a big game from sophomore goalie Steph Neatby, who ended up with 18 saves in earning the shutout.

“Neatby played really well tonight; she had to make some big saves after not seeing a lot of pucks, and that is when you are tested the most,” said Morey.

“We held them to seven shots over the first two periods, so to only see seven shots and then to see a flurry, makes it tough.”

While Princeton went through a tough stretch, going 1-4-1 in its six-game road swing, Morey sensed that her team was primed for a big game against Quinnipiac.

“I thought it was an all around amazing team effort; everybody did their job and that is what made the difference tonight,” said Morey, whose team had a good effort in a losing cause as it fell 3-1 at Quinnipiac on Saturday to drop to 4-9-3 overall and 4-7-1 in ECAC Hockey play and will resume action when it hosts Boston University for a
two-game set on December 30 and 31.

“To tell you the truth, this team hasn’t wavered in their beliefs. We have been playing well; we just haven’t been seeing the results. We needed it.”

In DeClerck’s view, the Tigers are headed in the right direction.

“We have been playing pretty consistently,” said DeClerck, who now has five goals on the season.

“We have had some good games so I think we are moving on the positive track.”