Women's Hockey: After tough early slate, Princeton resumes ECAC play
The women’s hockey team opened the 2012-13 season with a front-loaded schedule, facing five top-10 ranked teams in the opening six weekends. Princeton (4-6-2 overall, 1-5-2 ECAC) has been more successful so far against non-conference competitors, but this weekend it has an opportunity to turn its conference season around when it faces off against two ECAC rivals at Baker Rink on Friday and Saturday.
“We started off the season with a tough schedule, playing most of the ranked teams we’ll see this year in the first two months of our season,” senior forward and captain Kelly Cooke said. “With such a young team, it was definitely a challenge to start off with teams like Harvard and Dartmouth, but as we saw with our win over Ohio State last weekend, it’s not a challenge that we backed away from. Our record isn’t indicative of the hockey we have been playing lately, especially the past three games, where our team has looked like a whole new team.”
Junior forward Sally Butler agreed with Cooke, saying that though the top-ranked teams can be tough, every team in the league this year can be competitive. Early exposure to such talented opponents helped prepare Princeton and allowed the Tigers to hone in on their strengths and weaknesses.
This weekend, Princeton hosts Union (3-6-2, 0-2-2) on Friday night and Rensselaer (2-10-2, 0-4) on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers visited both these teams earlier in November, defeating Rensselaer 6-5 and drawing a 1-1 tie against Union in overtime.
“We played Union and RPI a few weekends ago, and while we would have liked to come away with four points, we still had a good weekend overall,” Cooke said. “We know how each of these teams operates, so we’re ready to play them this weekend, and hopefully we can get those four points.”
The Tigers are working on maintaining consistency throughout the entirety of each game, giving their best effort for a full 60 minutes.
“We need to play hard for all three periods — the Union game reminded us of this. We can’t sit back when we’re in the lead,” Butler said.
Princeton currently sits in the middle of the ECAC pack with four points. The results from this weekend’s games are important because at the end of the season a few points can make the difference between who earns a playoff spot. Adding four points to their total this weekend would put the Tigers in a better situation come late February.
“We’re up for two tough games this weekend,” Butler said. “We need to play all six periods to come away with four points. Outshooting our opponents will be key. We’ll have to improve on our offensive output to help out our freshman goalie, who has been solid in net for us.”
If the Tigers can play competitively for the entire game and stay out of the penalty box, they could set themselves up for their first home victories in league play.
“Our plan for this weekend is just to keep doing what we’re doing,” Cooke said. “We’ve played strong offensively and defensively the past three games and definitely have some momentum coming into this weekend. Our [power play] has been doing well, but we’re also looking to create more full-strength scoring opportunities.”
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