A Princeton men's ice hockey record was broken Feb. 11 at Union. The occasion was not met with a ceremony or an ovation from the crowd, however.
Senior forward Benoit Morin broke the unofficial school mark for career penalty minutes with a roughing call late in the first period against the Dutchmen's Alex Todd. As the senior skated to the penalty box to serve the 297th minute of his career, he was not alone. Todd would be sitting in the box right next door, serving a four-minute double minor.
During his first two years at Princeton, Morin would not have brought any friends to the box. Over the course of his senior season, however, Morin has learned how to work with the officials, rather than fighting them.
"I used to take more penalties, but now I just try to skate away," Morin says. "Sometimes I get a little competitive and can't, but I'm really trying hard this season."
The penalty gave Morin 93 minutes in the penalty box for the season, well ahead of sophomore forward David Del Monte who is second on the team with 34. This many minutes in the penalty box would lead one to believe that the senior is brought in only to be Princeton's enforcer. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"Benoit is a complete player," sophomore forward Dave Bennett — a linemate of Morin — says. "He not only battles well in the corners, but he also has a great shot and is a great passer."
"He's so good on the penalty kill that we don't want him getting himself in the box," head coach Don Cahoon said before the season.
Morin is tied for second on the team in points and showed his deft touch last Sunday when he snapped a wrist shot into the roof of the net over Dartmouth goalie Nick Boucher's shoulder. It was the sixth goal of the year for the senior and the 24th of his career. He is also only two assists behind the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference leaders.
"I've struggled a little to score goals, but I've had two in the last two games and think that our line is really getting on track," Morin says.
While Morin is currently playing some of the best hockey of his Princeton career, the forward has also been known to put in some of his strongest efforts when it matters most — starting with a two-goal effort in Princeton's Ivy-clinching win against Dartmouth last year and continuing through the ECAC tournament.
Morin proved to be one of the Tigers' stars during the tournament last season as he scored a goal and made one of his two key assists in the third period against Cornell — leading Princeton to a 6-5 win. Then in the next round, Morin scored the game-winner on a two-on-one with junior forward Kirk Lamb. As his senior season comes to a close, Morin hopes to repeat some of those theatrics in the coming weeks.
"I want to make it to Lake Placid again [for the ECAC final five]," Morin says. "I've been up there for three years and I want to be able to do it again."
The career marks are especially impressive considering Morin was forced to sit out his freshman year and only participate in practices after playing a year of Junior Hockey for the Montreal East Rangers.
When the forward came back his sophomore year and donned the orange and black sweater, he spent the early part of the season learning the difference between junior and college hockey.
"I had to adjust to college hockey when I came here," Morin says. "It's hard when stuff you used to get away with gets called."
That first year on the ice, Morin spent 105 minutes in the penalty box and hurt his team on many occasions, despite scoring 24 points. Now, the forward has learned the college game and understands how not to hurt his team while still playing a hard-nosed brand of hockey.
"I think he's drawing so many penalties this year because guys are trying to bait him, and he's not retaliating," Bennett says. "That's just another way he's such a well-rounded player."
Now Morin just smiles and chuckles when he is asked about his time in the penalty box. He knows that he will be known for his infamous record, but hopes that in the future he'll also be remembered for his play on the ice and not just his time off of it.