January 12, 2022

Goalie McQuigge Competes Hard in Sibling Battle, Starring as PU Women’s Hockey Falls to Clarkson

SPLIT DECISION: Princeton University women’s hockey goalie Rachel McQuigge does a split to thwart a Clarkson player last Friday. Senior star McQuigge made 37 saves in a losing cause as a short-handed Princeton squad fell 3-1 to No. 9 Clarkson. The contest was a family affair as McQuigge battled her younger sisters, Clarkson forwards junior Brooke and sophomore Kristyn. The Tigers, now 7-6-3 overall and 5-3-1 ECAC Hockey, are slated to play at Union on January 14 and at RPI on January 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It turned out to be a fierce ECAC Hockey battle when the Princeton University women’s hockey team hosted No. 9 Clarkson at Hobey Baker Rink last Saturday afternoon.

The contest was spiced up by a sibling rivalry as Princeton senior goalie Rachel McQuigge battled her younger sisters, Clarkson forwards junior Brooke and sophomore Kristyn.

“That is always really exciting; I played with Brooke growing up a bit in the summer and when I played juniors,” said netminder  McQuigge, a 5’7 native of Bowmanville, Ontario.

“Her freshman year was the first time we ever played against each other. Both of my sisters are very talented. It added an extra level of compete to the game, there is definitely a little trash talk.”

While McQuigge competed hard between the pipes, making 37 saves, it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 3-1 to the Golden Knights to move to 7-6-3 overall and 5-3-1 ECAC Hockey.

Although the loss stung, a short-handed Princeton squad, which was missing a number of players and head coach Cara Morey, was happy to be on the ice in light of the postponements that have hit the sporting world due to the COVID-19 surge caused by the Omicron variant.

“I know what it feels like to have a season canceled, I took a year off because of it,” said McQuigge.

“To just get the opportunity to play is exciting for us. That is the mentality we went into with today even though we were clearly down a few skaters.”

The feisty Tiger squad outshot Clarkson 13-7 in the first period as the teams were
knotted in a scoreless draw. Princeton forged ahead 1-0 midway through the second period on a goal by sophomore Annie Kuehl. The Golden Knights respond with a goal minutes later and the contest was tied at 1-1 heading into the third period. Clarkson got a power play goal 7:40 into the third period and then added an empty net goal with four seconds left in the game for the final 3-1 margin.

“It am proud of every person in that dressing room,” said McQuigge, reflecting on the effort by the Tigers. “They put their heart out there, they left nothing on the ice.”

McQuigge, for her part, was locked in throughout the contest, as 30 of her saves came in the final two periods.

“It was a fun game,” said McQuigge. “My defense gave me a chance on everything even though we were shorthanded.”

Over the course of the season, McQuigge has handled almost all the scoring chances that have come her way. She has a goals against average of 1.47 and is on track to break her own program single-season record of 1.51 set in 2019-20.

“The year off gave everyone a mentality that we are just excited to play and I think that helped  the team play awesome in front of me,” said McQuigge, whose career goals against average is 1.66 and could best the program record of 1.70 set by Roxanne Gaudiel ’06.

“I can’t ask more of them, they are making my job easy I am also a senior now so there is a little of if I don’t do it now, when will I?”

In her year away from school, McQuigge tried to do as much as she could to improve her skills and conditioning.

“I was in Ontario for a lot of it, finding a gym and ice was difficult like it was for a lot of people,” said McQuigge.

“I came back to campus early this summer and tried to get on the ice and skate with one of my teammates and got into the gym. Any opportunity I had to train, I was. It is just hard with COVID restrictions so you made the most of what you had.”

Having shared the starting duties with Steph Neatby ’20 in 2019-20, McQuigge is still leaning on her friend and former teammate as she has become the full-time goalie this winter.

“It feels like a lot of a lot of responsibility, especially with some girls out,” said McQuigge, who is backed up by junior Cassie Reale and freshman Jennifer Olnowich.

“There is no backup right now because of COVID and injuries. I still call Steph when I need advice and need to decompress. We are close, we built a very good relationship when we were competing with each other. I am grateful that carries through into our goaltending group now. They are always there, very supportive and they push me in practice.”

With Princeton slated to play at Union on January 14 and at RPI on January 15, McQuigge believes that the Tigers can build on their effort against Clarkson.

“We want to win anything we can,” said McQuigge. “Of course we are not happy with the loss today but we are happy with how we played because I think it shows that we can compete with anybody. I am excited to see what we can do with this group this year, we are in every single game.”