PU Women’s Hockey Star Monihan Skates at U.S. Camp, Plans to Utilize Experience to Help Tigers This Winter
SUMMER CAMP: Princeton University women’s hockey player Kate Monihan controls the puck in a 2022 game. Earlier this month, senior defender and team co-captain Monihan skated at the Team USA camp for the U.S. Collegiate Women’s Select Team at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., as part of the USA Hockey Women’s National Festival. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
For Kate Monihan, playing for the U.S. U18 women’s team in the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championship in Japan was a critical step in her hockey development.
“The things I learned there I came home and immediately brought to my high school team (Lawrenceville School),” said Monihan, who helped the U.S. win a silver medal at the competition. “It was things like moving the puck more quickly in the defensive zone from our defenders to our forwards and different strategies. When you are the U18 team, you are coached by college coaches. I had the opportunity to bring college level knowledge and experience to my high school team and that actually ended up being one of our best seasons at Lawrenceville.”
This summer, Monihan, now a Princeton University women’s hockey senior defender and team co-captain, got another chance to be involved with the U.S. program. She skated for the U.S. Collegiate Women’s Select Team, previously known as the U22 Select Team, at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., as part of the USA Hockey Women’s National Festival and is hoping to use that experience to help the Tigers this winter.
“At a U.S. camp, you always need some time to adjust because you are now playing with the top 40 collegiate players in the country,” said Monihan, a 5’5 native of Moorestown. “Everyone is as fast as you are, thinks as fast as you, and hones in on all of the little details the same way that you do, so there is an adjustment. You need to adjust to the speed and it is also adjusting to how other people play. There are differences between how the WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) players play and how ECAC players play. I think a big piece of it is going to be sharing the knowledge I learned from this camp with some of our younger players.”
Looking back on Princeton’s 2022-23 season that saw the Tigers go 15-15-1, Monihan credited the young squad with getting better and better as the winter unfolded. The Tigers went 5-2 in their last seven regular season games and then pushed No. 3 Colgate in an ECAC Hockey best-of-three quarterfinal series, winning the opener 3-2 before falling 4-3 and 2-1 to the Raiders to get eliminated.
“We were a team that was trying to find a way to click,” said Monihan. “Our team was young, both of our starting goaltenders were underclassmen. Everyone was just trying to catch their stride. We really started to come together at the end of the season. We challenged Colgate in that last series. It was a tough timing on that end when we started to get our mojo as a team.”
Monihan made strides last winter at both ends of the ice. “I took on a different role than I had the previous season, I was a bit more defensively minded,” said Monihan, who tallied 10 points on one goal and nine assists last winter. “In the past, I had usually spent more time on the power play than the penalty kill. This year, I spent more time on the penalty kill than the power play. It was a good way for me to grow as a player and expand my skill set to be more versatile and to be a strong defender and also contribute on the offensive end with my assists.”
Growing as a leader, Monihan has been named as a team co-captain for the upcoming 2023-24 campaign along with fellow Sarah Fillier and junior Mia Coene.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be a captain,” said Monihan. “It means even more to me to get to wear the ‘C’ on my jersey at Princeton because of the legacy and hockey history that comes with both the men’s and women’s programs. I feel like a stewardship almost, I want to honor those who came before me.”
In serving as a captain, Monihan will looking to be a positive force.
“I am big into building strong relationships off the ice, I tend to lead by connecting with everyone,” said Monihan. “It is empathy-driven leadership by being everyone’s No. 1 supporter and ensuring that they feel confident on and the off the ice and supported on and off the ice. I think that channels into the team culture. If we all feel like our buckets are filled, we will be able to give more to the team as a whole. At our games, I think I expend more energy cheering on our teammates than playing.”
This summer, Monihan expended a lot of energy as she juggled an internship with Major League Baseball while training for the U.S. camp.
“This summer they called me up and invited me to come to the camp so suddenly my training went into overdrive,” said Monihan. “No one plays hockey in New York City, so I was skating at Chelsea Piers. The biggest part of my routine was getting up at 5:30 before work every morning to train. I tried my best to get myself in the shape needed to compete at camp. My job ended in the first week in August and the next day, I turned around and went to camp in Lake Placid.”
Once at Lake Placid for the camp which took place from August 7-13, Monihan and her fellow collegiate stars kept busy all day long.
“Every day we would have some sort of on-ice activity; we would have either a team practice in the morning and then in the afternoon we would have some sort of meeting,” said Monihan. “We had a nutrition meeting, a meeting on sports psychology, and a U.S. anti-doping agency came to speak to us. The college team skated separately, but all of the meetings we had were with the senior national team. I would be walking down the hallway and there would be Hilary Knight or Abby Roque, all of these players I looked up to.”
On the ice, Monihan looked to hold her own. “Once I got settled in, I just tried to showcase the things that make me strong as a player,” said Monihan, who ended up not making the final squad of 23 U.S. college players which went 3-0 against Canada in a Rivalry Series that took place from August 16-19.
“It was trying to be quick on the blue line, moving the puck, honing in on little details, my corner battles, and my stick placement.”
Training at the Herb Brooks Arena where the U.S. men’s hockey team produced its historic run to the gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics meant a lot to Monihan.
“I grew up going to some hockey tournaments there. I have been there a lot, but every time I go, you feel the magic in the air,” said Monihan.
“The speed skating oval is right in front of the high school, right outside the hockey rink. Every time I am there, there is such an appreciation. I love history and you feel it now. Every time I got on the ice at camp, I tried to just take a moment and think about what a
privilege it is to be here, representing and training for my country but also honoring the moment that happened there before.”
Looking ahead to this winter, Monihan believes the Tigers can enjoy a magical campaign.
“Our talented young kids had the chance to really mature last year, they will start off stronger,” said Monihan. “The big theme is channeling that energy from last year and going in knowing that this is a new team. We have two new assistant coaches and a lot of new ideas. So it is just embracing every opportunity we have and channeling the competitive spirit that we ended with. I feel very strong going into the season.”