Princeton Ice Hockey looks for continued success after historic season

Last year, the Princeton Women’s Ice Hockey Team had one of their most successful seasons in program history. The Tigers captured the Ivy League Championship title and went to the NCAA tournament for the first time in ten years and for the second time ever. After losing in the quarterfinals to No. 3 Minnesota, the team hopes to not only get an NCAA bid once again, but make it even further in the tournament. Senior defender Kelsey Koelzer commented, “Last year ended with PWIH’s second appearance in the NCAA tournament and that is obviously a goal for this year as well. Having the experience of playing at that level is definitely something that pushes us to reach the same levels this year and even go beyond.”

In June, Koelzer was the first overall pick in the 2016 National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) Draft to the New York Riveters. The current senior was named the 2016 ECAC Best Defender of the Year, a finalist for the league’s Player of the Year, and the 2016 Ivy League Player of the Year. At the end of her junior year, Koelzer ranked second in the country amongst defenders in scoring, averaging one point per game, tallying 33 points on 17 goals and 13 assists. Koelzer is the second Tiger to be drafted in the NWHL Draft, behind goaltender Kimberly Newell ’16, who was selected 17th overall by the Riveters as well. Koelzer has already started out strong this season and the team looks forward to watching her perform going forward.

Another player to look out for is sophomore forward Karlie Lund, who was honored as last year’s Ivy League Player and ECAC Rookie of the Year. She led the team in scoring last season, finishing with with 39 points on 17 goals and 22 assists. Lund has already scored six goals this season, with two multi-scoring games against Brown and Dartmouth.

After shutting out Cornell to claim the Ivy League Championship, the Tigers are excited to play their league rivals once again. Koelzer remarked, “Obviously any Ivy league game is huge for both the Ivy league and ECAC, so fans should definitely look out for those.” The team has already faced-off in four thrilling Ivy League games against Brown, Yale, Harvard and Dartmouth, with a tie against the Bulldogs, victories against the the Bears and the Crimson, and a last-minute loss against the Big Green.

In order to achieve their lofty goals, the team’s strategy this season is to stay focused. Junior goaltender Alysia DaSilva commented, “[Last year] was an unforgettable experience, but now it’s a new season so we have to focus on our games ahead. While it’s important to remember what contributed to our success last season, we can’t let that be a distraction as we work to achieve our goals for this season.” Despite the graduation of Newell, the team has confidence in DaSilva as their starting goaltender for this season. She captured two shutouts against Brown and Union last year and was also honored as a member of the ECAC All-Academic Team. On the defensive end, the team will also look to sophomore defender Stephanie Sucharda, who was an ECAC All-Rookie selection and a member of the Canadian U-22 team this summer. She is joined by fellow Canadian freshman goaltender Steph Neatby, who was also elected to the U-22 team this past summer as well.

According to Koelzer, achieving the same level of success as last year will be even harder this season because of the overall improvement within the league. Despite the many success of last season, the Tigers remain modest and know they have their work set out for them. DaSilva remarked, “As far as expectations go, we’ve learned you can’t go into a game simply expecting a win based off talent. Every team in the ECAC is competitive and we know we’ll have to work hard for every point.”

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