December 1, 2021

Junior Star Connors Providing Offensive Punch As PU Women’s Hockey Battling Tough Foes

99 AND COUNTING: Princeton University women’s hockey player Maggie Connors fires the puck in recent action. Last Saturday, junior forward Connors scored the lone goal for 10th-ranked Princeton as it fell 3-1 to No. 4 Northeastern. The tally marked the 99th point for Connors in her college career. The Tigers, now 5-4-1 overall, play a two-game set at Providence on December 3 and 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton University women’s hockey team having not scored in its previous two games heading into its contest against Northeastern last Saturday, Maggie Connors and her teammates came out firing.

The 10th-ranked Tigers outshot the visiting No. 4 Huskies 15-6 in the first period.

“After last night’s game, we really regrouped,” said junior forward Connors, referring to a 2-0 loss to Northeastern last Friday.

“We wanted to come out strong and really push the pace, knowing that they are a very fast team, respect to them.”

Even though the game was knotted in a 0-0 tie after the first with Northeastern goalie Aerie Frankel coming up big to repel Princeton, the Tigers were confident they would break through.

“We stuck together, we knew that it was going to come if we keep putting pucks on net,” said Connors. “She is an amazing goalie, we had to keep pushing.”

After the Huskies took a 1-0 lead with 6:38 left in the second period, Connors got a puck in the back of the net in the waning moments of the frame, stealing the puck from Frankel and flipping it past her.

“I just wanted to forecheck, I knew I was the closest there,” said Connors, whose tally was her eighth goal of the year and the 99th point in her Princeton career.

“Her back was to me so I don’t think that she knew I was coming. I was able to just lift her stick and get the puck. Then I was heading to the net and I saw two coming at me so I would not have had time to get it to my forehand. I have played against her and shot against her before, she is a little bit of a shorter goalie so it was maybe going up top. I got a little lucky there.”

The Tigers were unlucky as Northeastern responded with a goal 20 seconds later to take a 2-1 lead into the third period and tacked on another tally early in the third to earn a 3-1 victory.

As one of the most battle-tested players on a young Princeton squad, Connors is looking to carry the offensive load for the Tigers, who moved to 5-4-1 overall with the loss to the Huskies.

“This year is entirely different we have such a big turnaround in our team,” said Connors, a native of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Labrador who has played for the Canadian national program.

“I think we are really coming together. We are a little bit of a younger team. I want to push the pace on offense and try to get as many shots as I can. My linemates have been great so far this year. We have to work a little more on our offense and when that gets going, I think we will do really well.”

As Connors approaches the 100-point milestone, she is grateful for the help of her teammates over the years.

“It brings so many memories of the different teams at Princeton I have played with,” said Connors.

“I wouldn’t be able to do it without my linemates in the past and the team that surrounds me. It is definitely exciting but I think there are a lot of people to thank if that happens.”

Princeton head coach Cara Morey was excited by how her team came out flying on Saturday.

“They were amazing, the girls played so hard right off the bat,” said Morey.

“We decided that we were just going to take it to them today and see where we could get. To outshoot them like 15-6 in the first period was incredible.”

Morey credited Connors with playing very well this year as she is the player on the squad with more than two goals this season.

“I think we need more people to step up and produce because we are relying on Maggie right now,” said Morey.

“I don’t know how she scores from the goal line like that every time — it is her bread and butter. Maggie is elite and she can score goals. That is a piece we are missing, we need people to step up and bury goals.”

Senior goalie Rachel McQuigge has been stepping up for the Tigers with a goals against average of 1.57 and a save percentage of .953.

“Rachel has been outstanding, she has a lot of maturity to her game now,” said Morey of McQuigge, who had 28 saves against Northeastern on Saturday.

“She battles in the net, she gives us a chance to win every single game and that is all we can ask of her.”

As Princeton plays a two-game set at Providence on December 3 and 4, Morey is confident her squad will keep battling.

“I think our season is better than that record sounds; we lost three of the games to top five teams in the country, Quinnipiac was No. 5 and Northeastern is at No. 4,” said Morey.

“To come in and tie Colgate and beat Q-pac, there are really big wins in there. We are looking to go 4-0 down the stretch before we break for Christmas. It is such a young team, and every day they are getting better and better. We just have to keep working who we are as a team, what is our identity, how we play and just take it to the next teams that we have coming up.”

Connors, for her part, is confident that the Tigers will keep getting better and better.

“I don’t think there is any reason for us to hang our heads, it is definitely a different year,” said Connors.

“It is a little bit of a disadvantage; we didn’t play last year and a lot of teams were able to play. We have some injuries right now and things and we started the season a little bit later but I have high hopes for this group so I am excited. It was definitely a tough weekend for us but I think we are going to regroup and we are going to be ready to play the next four games.”