Playing a team who makes its home across the globe, the women’s ice hockey team managed to get in a valuable exhibition game just in time for the season to begin.
On Monday, Princeton hosted Team China for an exhibition game at Hobey Baker Rink. The Tigers made the most of the evening and walked away with a feel-good 3-0 shutout of Team China. Princeton coach Cara Morey was able to schedule the matchup of teams across the world; having played under coach Digit Murphy of Team China while at Brown, the two formed a close relationship on and off the ice and were happy to reconnect for an exhibition game. The game came just one day after Princeton played Cornell in a scrimmage; senior captain Kiersten Falck noted that the team was "thrown off a bit by the Sunday/Monday schedule —
we usually play Friday/Saturday — and had no idea what to expect from Team China. We knew that we just had to play hard and think fast and just have fun at the end of the day.”
Not even into the beginning of the season, the Tigers look like they will have a strong freshman class this year; all three goals were scored by freshman — two by Annie MacDonald and one by Shannon Griffin. Falck said after the game, “The three goals by our freshman were incredible! We were impressed and excited to see them step up for us.”
During the game, two Tigers shared net-minding duties. In the first period of the game, senior Alysia DaSilva stopped 11 shots, eventually earning the win in net. After the first period she passed goaltending duties over to freshman Rachel McQuigge, who stopped 20 shots over the final two periods. Neither goalie gave up a goal in their appearances, despite facing a combined 31 shots while giving standout sophomore goalie Stephanie Neatby the night off.
Princeton comes into this season looking to make some noise in both the ECAC Hockey League and on the national stage. Last season, the Tigers made the ECAC semifinal for the first time since 2006 and put up a good fight against Clarkson, the eventual national champion. After finishing fourth a year ago with a league record of 14-6-2, the Tigers are predicted to finish sixth this season in a loaded ECAC which features seven of its 12 teams in or near the top 10 in the nation, according to a poll. Princeton is currently the first team out of the top 10, receiving 16 votes. This is similar to last year’s situation, in which the team started outside the top 10 and remained in it for the entirety of the season after its first week of competition.
“Every team in the league is incredible,” commented Falck. “It is a competitive league and we are grateful to be challenged by the best.”
The Tigers are returning some key faces for the 2017-2018 campaign, including last season’s goalie of the year, Neatby. Last season, Neatby set the school single season record for save percentage (.950) and goals against average (1.52); both of these were also good enough for second best in the nation. And of course, no one will forget Neatby’s incredible performance in last year’s triple overtime game against Quinnipiac in the ECAC quarterfinals; in that game, Neatby stopped 60 shots in one game, shattering a school record. Neatby will be one of the cornerstones for the team this season, and for seasons to come as she looks to repeat a record-setting campaign for the Tigers.
Also returning for the Tigers are two linemates and two ECAC rookies of the year: sophomore Carly Bullock and junior Karlie Lund. Lund was named to the preseason all-ECAC team and looks to win her third straight all-ECAC forward honor this year. Lund was a scoring machine last season for the Tigers, earning 44 points — 11th in the nation in points per game — as well as earning an 18-game point streak from November to January last season. Lund looks to be Princeton’s leading scorer for the third year in a row.
The Tigers have a few more days of practice before the regular season officially gets underway. The Tigers will open the season with a four-game homestand, facing non-conference foe Providence for back-to-back games this weekend before hosting Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend in their first ECAC games of the year. “These games are important,” said Falck, “because we want everyone to know what kind of team we are going to be.”
Falck, like the rest of the Tigers, is excited to get the season underway. “We feel anxious — we want to get rolling! We are a team that can have a real impact. I think people do not expect us to perform as well as last year given our loss of seven seniors. But, this game shows that we have not fallen off. We have not disappeared. We are ready for anyone that wants to show up to compete against a hungry Tiger team,” said Falck.
Be sure to get out there and support your Tigers at Hobey Baker Rink before embarking on your fall break!