With Focus on Being Gritty All Over the Ice, PU Men’s Hockey Primed for Opener at Harvard
ROCKIN’ ROBBINS: Princeton University men’s hockey player Adam Robbins, left, controls the puck in game last season. Junior forward Robbins figures to be an offensive catalyst this winter for the Tigers. Princeton starts its 2022-23 season by playing at Harvard on October 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
As the Princeton University men’s hockey team heads into the 2022-23 season, it is focusing on being gritty all over the ice.
“We need to be the toughest team to play against, night in and night out,” said Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty, who guided the Tigers to an 8-21-2 overall record and 7-14-1 ECAC Hockey last winter. “That stems from doing the non-skilled parts of the game. We have to be very good at the non-skilled parts of the game, like blocking shots, being physical, and taking care of the smaller details. All of those will yield wins.”
Fogarty saw progress in preseason scrimmages as Princeton topped Yale 2-0 and Brown 4-2 in two-period sessions last weekend.
“The biggest part of what I was trying to see in preseason is to find out what the players can bring,” said Fogarty, whose team will be opening its season by playing at Harvard on October 29. “They created their identities on the weekend. The guys basically showed us what they can do.”
Fogarty believes that his group of forwards — which includes junior Adam Robbins (5 goals, 8 assists in 2021-22), junior Nick Seitz (3 goals, 6 assists), freshman Dave Jacobs, senior Liam Gorman (3 goals, 3 assists), freshman Brendan Gorman, and junior Ian Murphy (9 goals, 10 assists) — can do a lot this winter.
“Adam and Nick have looked good on the weekend. They played together last season, so there is some familiarity,” said Fogarty. “Dave, a first year player, was on the right wing. That line is looking good. We have the Gorman brothers playing on the same line with Murphy. That is unique in a way to have a senior and freshman on the same line.”
Collectively, the forwards have been displaying the grit that Fogarty is looking for.
“Overall the lines look very similar, they are doing things the same way already,” said Fogarty. “They are working hard, they had a lot of blocked shots. We were doing a lot of the non-skilled parts of the game well — back-checking, blocking shots, changes, and face-offs. That is the one part that we have made emphasis on — being one of the best at non-skilled attributes of the game.”
Along the blue line, sophomore Noah de la Durantaye (3 goals, 7 assists), senior Pito Walton (4 goals, 7
assists), junior Nick Carabin (1 assist), and junior Mike Kennedy (2 goals, 1 assist) have been making an impact.
“Noah had two power play goals during the scrimmages,” said Fogarty. “Pito looked very good. He is playing strong defensively and skating really well with the puck. Nick and Mike have a physical presence for us. They played very strong, they had a lot of hits over the weekend.”
At goalie, sophomore Ethan Pearson (7.17 goals against average, .826 save percentage in 2021-22) and senior Aidan Porter (3.71 GAA, .877 save pct.) will be vying for time between the pipes.
“Both played very well, it is game by game right now,” said Fogarty. “We have two capable goaltenders. I love both of them. I trust both of them, I know they can get the job done.”
The Tigers are primed to get the job done this Saturday when the puck drops in the opener versus the Crimson.
“We are looking forward to the Harvard weekend,” said Fogarty. “We love it, we are looking forward to the challenge. They better be ready for a tough game.”
In Fogarty’s view, the chemistry the team has developed over the offseason will help lead to tough play on the ice this winter.
“We have done a tremendous amount of bonding, we have done a lot of community outreach,” said Fogarty, noting that his players have visited Snider youth hockey, visited elementary schools in Princeton to read to students, and have attended as many Princeton athletic events as possible.
“We are a very tight team and that will allow us to do the non-skilled parts of the game well while allowing the skilled parts to take over. I love where our foundation is as a team. It is as close a team as I have seen in nine years.”