November 10, 2021

Freshman Paul Makes Stellar Debut at Baker Rink, Scoring 2 Goals as PU Women’s Hockey Beats RPI

BREAKING THE ICE: Princeton University women’s hockey player Sarah Paul brings the puck up the ice last Friday night against RPI. Freshman forward Paul scored the first two goals of her college career to help Princeton prevail 4-1. The Tigers, who defeated Union 4-2 a day later to improve to 4-0 overall and 4-0 ECAC Hockey, will now play a home-and-home set against Quinnipiac this weekend. The Tigers host the Bobcats on November 12 and then play them in Hamden, Conn., on November 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Sarah Paul was aiming to make her debut at the Hobey Baker Rink last Friday evening for the Princeton University women’s hockey team a night to remember.

“It was definitely something that our team collectively has been looking forward to, some of us for 600 days, others since we committed in high school, whenever that was,” said freshman forward Paul,  a 5’8 native of West Kelowna, British Columbia.

“It was just a lot of excitement and definitely a good feeling to be here.”

Just under six minutes into the game, Paul got a very good feeling, tallying her first career goal for the Tigers.

“I tried to pass it through the stick of that defender who was on me,” recalled a smiling Paul, clutching the puck with which she scored the milestone tally.

“It didn’t work out so I made the next best play and I ended up getting a good chance and got lucky and back of the net. It feels good, it is a bit of a relief to get that first one out of the way and move forward.”

It didn’t take long for Paul to get her second one as she scoured 3:36 into the second period.

“I just tried to get it through that,” said Paul. “I used their defense and our wingers as a screen and just got it through again.”

Princeton went on to pull away to a 4-1 victory as Maggie Connors and Ellie Marcovsky also found the back of the net for the Tigers.

“It is probably one of the best days yet so far for sure,” said Paul.

“My mom and my brother were watching back home, I was excited about that.”

Paul is excited to be skating on the same line with Sharon Frankel and Marcovsky.

“It was good, we started getting some chemistry going earlier this week making passes, getting loose and having fun with each other,” said Paul.

“Our team slogan on the back of our shirt this year is “Just Dance” so we like have some fun on the bench, dance, and stay relaxed and loose. It helps us calm down and do what we can do.”

With her experience playing for Team Canada at the 2020 U-18 Women’s World Championship, Paul is staying calm as she adjusts to the rigors of college hockey.

“It is definitely bigger, stronger, faster girls; I sometimes get caught off guard a little, getting knocked over more than I did in high school,” said Paul.

“The speed is a lot faster than it was in high school. Team Canada definitely helped me prepare for the next level here. It is something I am very thankful for. Getting to play with those girls is always great. It has been awesome so far.”

Paul is hoping to build on her Baker debut. “It is just continue on my strengths and maybe reflect back on this game and see what I can change moving forward,” said Paul.

“I want to keep growing confidence with my line and this team as a collective group together.”

PU head coach Cara Morey liked the way her group performed collectively in the win over RPI.

“I was so impressed with them tonight because in the first two games, it just wasn’t that kind of puck movement and it wasn’t that kind of puck support,” said Morey, whose team played well a day later, defeating Union 4-2 to improve to 4-0 overall and 4-0 ECAC Hockey.

“It didn’t look clean and crisp like normally. I know I have to cut them some slack because it has been 600 days and it is a brand new team that hadn’t played together yet. They outdid my expectations tonight. I didn’t think it would look that good this early on so hopefully they can continue this and they understand when they move the puck that well and they support each other that well, good things really happen.”

Having a game at Baker Rink for the first time since March 1, 2020 was a very good thing for the program.

“It was awesome, it was so great to be back,” said Morey. “It was awesome seeing all of the fans back. We had a great turnout and you could just feel the energy. I think the players were just as excited as we were and they did a great job.”

Paul certainly did a great job in the win. “She was antsy because of last weekend,” said Morey, referring to the fact that Paul had only one assist in Princeton’s first two games.

“She has high expectations on herself, I think she thought it might be like that right out of the gates. I was actually surprised that it could click that quickly but her shot is elite. You can’t read that release, it is unbelievable.”

Senior goalie Rachel McQuigge looked elite as she made 25 saves against RPI.

“Rachel is playing outstanding, she looks like a senior,” said Morey.

“She is just so calm, confident and poised. She looks big. I think she has been great, she never looks like she is moving around too much. She is making her reads, tracking well, and covering those rebounds. They are not getting second or third efforts. We are pretty happy with her.”

Morey was happy with the team’s scoring balance which saw Frankel get two assists and Dominique Cormier and Mia Coene each get one helper in addition to the three players who tallied goals.

“Last season’s team we relied on that top line for so much of our scoring and that is just not the way it is going to be for this team,” said Morey, whose top line in 2019-20 included the graduated Carly Bullock, Sarah Fillier, who is currently training with Team Canada, and junior Connors.

“We need everybody stepping up and contributing. It has been awesome seeing all of our new young players. I think we have given out four pucks already and we only have seven new players so that is pretty good right off the bat. We need a balanced attack and that is what we had tonight.”

Paul is confident that the squad has the depth to keep spreading the goals around.

“I think all of us, freshmen all the way up to seniors, all classes knew it was time to step up, losing great players like that,” said Paul, who will look to keep stepping up as Princeton plays a home-and-home set against Quinnipiac this weekend with the Tigers hosting the Bobcats on November 12 and then playing them in Hamden, Conn., on November 13.

“We also recognize that we have a lot of talent in this group still as well. We always talk about being the best teammate and the best player you can be. Our success comes when each of us as individuals are as best as we can because then we come together and we are all great.”