Despite the many Dean’s Date assignments and finals the Tigers had to prepare for next week, Princeton had a very successful weekend in athletics. Women’s ice hockey (10-9-1 overall, 8-6 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) was able to sweep the competition at Baker Rink, routing both Yale (7-6-1, 4-6 ECAC) and Brown (4-13, 1-9 ECAC). Coming off a difficult travel weekend last week, the Tigers were able to rally and come out with two huge wins. Sophomores Molly Contini and Kelsey Koelzer both had outstanding performances, finishing with 5 and 3 points, respectively. This bodes well for their overall standings in the Eastern College Athletic Conference,as well as in the Ivy League.
The Tigers started the weekend with their matchup against Yale on Friday. Junior goaltender Kimberly Newell had a stunning 31 saves and four different Tigers — Contini and sophomore Cassidy Tucker, junior Jaimie McDonell and senior Ali Pankowski — were able to find the back of the net in the 4-1 victory. Contini also finished the game with an assist.
“This was a huge weekend for us,” Contini said. “We wanted to pick up as many points as possible before heading into exam break.”
Last weekend, Princeton took a lot of shots on goal but struggled to score. Scoring was far from an issue this weekend, and McDonell thinks that the team might be able to contribute this to its new warm-up. The Tigers had been struggling with slow starts in their past games, but the warm-up drills they did before facing off the Bulldogs were faster paced.
“We took away a lot of standing around time. It was much more at the pace of a actual game,” McDonell said.
This new warm-up proved successful, as the Tigers were able to make a strong start, scoring twice in the first 10 minutes. Yale had a strong start, but Newell blocked all of its shots on goal in the first and second periods. Yale was significantly less confident when it was quickly pushed in the defensive. The Tigers were cohesive and worked well as a unit. With four different scorers, Princeton did not have to rely on one player, let alone one line to get the job done. The Tigers kept the puck on the Bulldog’s turf for most of the game.
“Yale’s offense is very strong, but once we got them on the defensive, they struggled a lot,” McDonell said.
“I think we played our most complete game of the year against Yale,” Contini said, “we had all four lines and six defensemen rolling and Kim, as usual, was solid in the net.”
Moving into their game on against Brown on Saturday, the Tigers had a lot of confidence. They moved freshman Alysia DaSilva into the goal and she responded with a strong 23 saves. Contini scored twice, and Koelzer, McDonell and Kiersten Falck also scored in the 5-1 win. Contini and Koelzer both finished the night with three points apiece.
Even with their outstanding victory against Yale, the game against the Bears had a slow start. In the first period, Brown scored early and the Tigers were not able to respond with a goal. However, once they got their bearings, the Tigers scored three times in the second period.
“Brown works hard, and until we got going it was hard to play against them. We weren’t generating shots in the first period, but once the second period started, we were completely different. We were bring the puck to the net and all our lines were rolling well,” McDonell said.
One of the obstacles that Princeton faced in their matchup against the Bears was the overwhelming number of penalties. This threw off the Tigers’ rhythm in the first period. “We weren’t rolling well because of the constant stop-and-go,” McDonell said, “but after the first period, we knew what we had to do and we knew that we could beat them. We weren’t capitalizing on chances, but if you keep taking shots, the goals are going to come.”
One of the big turn-around moments for the Tigers was Koelzer’s go-ahead goal in the second period that brought the Tigers to a 2-1 lead. Koelzer and Contini have both had phenomenal seasons and DaSilva has had a strong start, which bodes extremely well for the future of the program. With only four seniors on the roster, the depth of Princeton’s team will only improve in the next couple of years.
“I’m so proud of our team,” McDonell said. “The four points we earned this weekend are huge for our overall ranking.”
The Tigers are off for the next two weeks to take exams, but they will be back on the road to take on number one ranked Boston College on Jan. 26.