January 24, 2024

With Sophomore Kuehl Emerging as a Star, PU Women’s Hockey Excited for Stretch Run

EVEN KUEHL: Princeton University women’s hockey player Jane Kuehl streaks up the ice in a game last year. Last Friday, Kuehl scored a short-handed goal as Princeton lost 5-3 to Cornell in a game that saw the Tigers rally from a 3-0 deficit only to fall short. Princeton, who lost 6-0 to Colgate last Saturday to move to 12-7-3 overall and 5-7-3 ECAC Hockey, play at Brown on January 26 and at Yale on January 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Jane Kuehl, joining the Princeton University women’s hockey team last year was a family affair.

Coming to Princeton she was reunited with older sister, Annie, a star forward on the Tigers who helped inspire the younger Kuehl to get into the game.

“Seeing her play, I got competitive and I really wanted to play with her and against her,” said sophomore forward Kuehl of her older sister, who is in her senior season for the Tigers. “Luckily I have had the opportunity to play with her here.”

This winter, the Kuehl sisters have joined forces, playing on the same line.

“It is really fun, she can tell me whatever she wants and I will listen,” said Kuehl, a 5’6 native of Minneapolis, Minn. “We push each other really well — it is always fun to play with her. Our parents love it. I feel like we do have a connection on the ice. She is good in the middle and I am good on the outside. I always seem to find her and she always seems to find me. We click.”

Last Friday as Princeton hosted Cornell, things weren’t clicking for the Tigers when it came to finishing as they fell behind the Big Red 3-0 early in the second period.

“We felt really good about our play in the first period, it is just the scoreboard didn’t show it,” said Kuehl, reflecting on a first period which saw the Tigers outshoot Cornell 17-8. “We knew if we just kept up the intensity, then some pucks would get in and that is what happened in the second period.”

Tiger stars Sarah Paul and Sarah Fillier both found the back of the net in a span of 3:55 midway through the second period to narrow the Cornell lead to 3-2. After the Big Red responded with a goal to make it a 4-2 contest, Kuehl produced a highlight goal, stealing puck with the Tigers on a penalty kill and racing in on a breakaway and slotting the puck past the Cornell netminder.

“I joked around with our coach (Cara Morey) because we take so many penalties, why don’t we score a short-handed goal while we are at it,” said a smiling Kuehl. “I read the play and picked off the pass. I thought I had enough speed to go to the net. I knew I had to move her side to side so I was trying to go to my backhand and luckily it just snuck in. It was really nice.”

The Tigers kept carrying play in the third period, outshooting the Big Red 12-6, but couldn’t tally another goal as they fell 5-3.

“I feel like, and our team said this too, that if we had a couple more minutes, the score could look a little different,” said Kuehl. “We just fell short.”

Making marked progress, Kuehl has looked different on the ice this season, having now tallied seven goals and six assists this winter after scoring three goals and four assists in her debut campaign.

“I feel a lot more comfortable and confident out there than I did last year,” said Kuehl. “Freshman year you are  always just a little scared, it is a whole new jump. Now I am a sophomore and I have the opportunity to grow and learn more. It was physical stuff in the offseason, offensive work and really just confidence. That is a big part of the game.”

Princeton head coach Cara Morey was confident in her squad even when it was down 3-0.

“We outplayed them in the first period, I thought we outplayed them 80 percent of the game,” said Morey. “There was a stretch in the second where they took it to us. I thought we were awesome tonight honestly.”

Morey credited the younger Kuehl with providing some great play this winter for the Tigers.

“Jane is great, she is so fast, she has got skill,” said Morey. “She comes out to extra skill sessions every single week, working with Jamie on her shot. That was a nifty little forehand-backhand. It was great, she lifted it right over her pad. She has been awesome.”

The Kuehl sisters have developed an awesome bond on the ice, working together on the same line.

“Those two know where each other are going to be, they know where they can put the puck,” said Morey. “They know where they are going to go so it’s an easy combination.”

The loss to the Big Red was tough to take as the Tigers ended up with a 38-30 edge in shots.

“The last time we played them, I thought they played better and we got the win,” said Morey, referring to Princeton’s 4-3 victory over Cornell on November 18. “This time I thought we were the better team and they got the win. That is a hard thing about coaching. I don’t like to lose, but you have got to know that the hockey gods are going to reward us if we continue playing like that.”

Looking forward, Morey is optimistic that her squad will keep getting better as it headed into the homestretch of the season.

“If we can clean up some of our defensive stuff, we are probably going to be one of the scariest teams come playoffs,” said Morey, whose team fell 6-0 to No. 4 Colgate on Saturday to move to 12-7-3 overall and 5-7-3 ECAC Hockey and will play at Brown on January 26 and at Yale on January 27. “I don’t think anyone is going to want to play us this year in the playoffs.”

In Kuehl’s view, the Tigers have what it takes to put a  scare into their foes.

“We are looking at playoffs — we have to look at what we did well tonight and fix our mistakes,” said Kuehl. “We are going to do well down the stretch, we feel good.”