February 6, 2019

With Freshman Connors Going on Scoring Binge, PU Women’s Hockey Stays Atop ECACH Standings

MAG FORCE: Princeton University women’s hockey player Maggie Connors controls the puck in recent action. Last Friday against St. Lawrence, freshman forward Connors scored the game winning goal with 3.2 second left in overtime as the Tigers prevailed 4-3 and extended their program-record unbeaten streak to 20. A day later, No. 4 Princeton lost 3-1 to No. 5 Clarkson to see the streak get snapped. The Tigers, now 15-3-5 overall and 12-1-3 ECAC Hockey, play at Brown on February 8 and at Yale on February 9. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Maggie Connors realized that the game was on her stick as the Princeton University women’s hockey team headed into the waning seconds of overtime against St. Lawrence last Friday night at Hobey Baker Rink.

With the foes knotted in a 3-3 deadlock, Princeton freshman forward Connors chased down the puck and raced up ice.

“When I saw Sarah [Fillier] chip it, I was thinking this was most likely going to be the last chance,” recalled Connors.

“I didn’t know that there was three seconds left at the time and I held on to it a lot longer than I normally would so if this is the last chance, I don’t want to miss the net.”

Connors didn’t miss the net, firing the puck past the St. Lawrence goalie with 3.2 seconds left to give the Tigers a dramatic victory.

“I saw both corners and I thought short side looked better so I went for it,” said Connors, who was mobbed by her teammates on the ice after the horn sounded. “That is what I was shooting for; I would never hit that all the time. It was kind of lucky but it worked out.”

The tally not only gave the Tigers a win, it extended their program-record unbeaten streak to 20. “It means a lot, the team is so supportive,” said Connors, who scored Princeton’s initial goal of the night on a first period power play. “It is a great win, it was a lot of fun.”

The Tigers didn’t have so much fun a day later as No. 4 Princeton lost 3-1 to No. 5 Clarkson to see their streak get snapped.

While the defeat was disappointing, Connors likes the way the Tigers have played since returning from a 17-day exam hiatus

“The break was hard; with exams, we didn’t practice as much as we would have liked,” said Connors.

“We definitely picked up right where left off. Against Penn State (a 4-2 win on January 29), there were a few minutes where we had to get going to get our legs under us. I think practicing the little things over that break really helped us out.”

Connors has picked up her scoring pace, scoring 12 goals in her last eight games after notching five in the first nine games of her college career.

“In the beginning, I played a little more hesitant,” said Connors, a 5’6 native of St. John’s, Newfoundland, who made the 2018-19 Canada National Development Team and has played for the country’s U18 squad.

“I realized you have got to be quicker with the puck and you have to know where you are going to put it before you even get it.”

Playing on the same line with classmate Fillier, a fellow Canadian national performer, has played a key role in Connors’ recent surge.

“We only played probably 10 games together before this, but I feel like we have been playing together for years,” said Connors, whose 17 goals lead the Tigers.

“She knows where I am. I don’t even have to look, I just know where she is going to be every time down low. That definitely helps out with the chemistry and being in the right spot to shoot and score.”

Princeton head coach Cara Morey sensed that Connors was going to emerge as an offensive force this winter.

“Maggie is a natural goal scorer; she has a knack,” said Morey. “She is one of the best players off the puck. She knows where the puck is going to go and she gets there and she can shoot. She can find those tiny little pinholes and she plays really well with Sarah.”

Going toe-to-toe with a feisty St. Lawrence team, which took a 1-0 lead and then rallied to tie the game at 2-2 and 3-3, was valuable for the Tigers.

“Tonight was a great test because usually we have a lead and we start to give it up,” said Morey.

“We had to battle the entire 65 minutes. I was really proud of them for their resilience; that St Lawrence team deserves a ton of credit.”

With Princeton, now 15-3-5 overall and 12-1-3 ECAC Hockey and tied with Cornell for first in the league standings, Morey knows her players will need to keep showing resilience.

“Our team has big hearts and they find a way to win in the end,” said Morey, whose team plays at Brown on February 8 and at Yale on February 9. “It is hard to play in our league and to play these teams that are incredible night after night and still find a way to win.”

Connors, for her part, is confident the she and Fillier along with junior partner Carly Bullock can help provide the scoring punch necessary to help Princeton stay on the winning track.

“Our line just works so well,” said Connors. “In the beginning, it took some getting used to, playing with new players. We all complement each other well. We all want to score, we all want assists.”