Princeton’s precarious foothold on first place may not last much longer, but its run so far is remarkable. Yes, it’s true that the Tigers are 0-3 against Cornell, Clarkson and Vermont, the three ECAC representatives in last year’s NCAA Tournament, but an 8-4-1 league record is nevertheless impressive, when you consider the program’s history.
Princeton has been playing hockey since the turn of the century, and it doesn’t have a banner to show for it. Since World War II, when the schedule stabilized and Princeton no longer played club teams regularly, the Tigers have just six winning seasons, and only two since 1960. Only once since the formation of the ECAC in 1961 have the Tigers had a winning league record. Their best finish in the league is seventh, they have never appeared in the NCAA Tournament, and the Tigers have never even won an Ivy League title.
All of the other Ivy League teams have had success at some point — Cornell and Harvard are obvious, Brown has been in the tournament recently, and Dartmouth made the Final Four with current Brown head coach Bob Gaudet as the goalie in 1980.
It’s not so hard to believe when you realize that even among Ivy League schools, Princeton (along with Yale and Harvard) has the strictest academic standards. Even further, Princeton isn’t in New England like those other two.
But head coach Don Cahoon was a member of two national champions at BU, and he doesn’t use that history as a crutch. Instead he’s instilled a winning attitude. Under Cahoon, Princeton won its first ever ECAC playoff game, made the ECAC Tournament final, swept Harvard and Yale in a season for the first time in 90 years, had its best start to a season since WW II, and even controls its own destiny for winning an Ivy League title. And the Tigers are seven wins away from their first 20-win season.
Many of these goals rest upon the Tigers’ next game, Jan. 31 at Cornell. A tough test any time, but especially coming out of the break for finals. Lynah Rink is a lion’s den, and how the Tigers react will tell a lot about their chances the rest of the way.
Todd White is staking his claim to a Hobey Baker Award candidacy. His hat trick two weekends ago led Clarkson to a win over New Hampshire, and he scored the Knights’ only two goals Saturday in their 2-1 win at Vermont’s Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Some scoffed when the Knights started touting White as a candidate, thinking that with St. Louis and Perrin around, White wasn’t nearly the best forward in the league, let alone the best player. But his 22 goals and 42 points are tops overall among ECAC players.
Combining White with Chris Clark (14-12–26), the pair accounts for 36 of the Knights’ 87 goals, or 41.4 percent. By contrast, St. Louis and Perrin have 33 of Vermont’s 76 goals (43.4 percent).
Clarkson, a perennially dominant second-half team, seems poised for another run at a regular-season title. Despite some disappointment in the NCAA Tournament over the years, the Knights’ consistency is remarkable; they are in the race for first every single year. Clarkson has won five in a row since opening 1997 with an overtime loss, and at 7-4-0, is right back in the ECAC race again.
Eye on RPI
RPI continues its all-or-nothing play. In 21 games this season, the Engineers have been shut out four times, yet have five other games in which they’ve scored six goals or more.
Union is investigating the possibility of an off-campus arena, according to a recent report in the Schenectady (N.Y.) Gazette. The current home, Achilles Rink, is antiquated in the minds of many.
According to the report, school president Roger Hull met with the student leadership to discuss the idea, and it didn’t go over well. Union, however, continues to explore all possibilities.