Princeton has gotten off to a superb start this season in winning nine of its first 10 games. Imagine what the Tigers will be like once senior center Lee Jubinville gets going.
Jubinville, who has led Princeton in scoring the past two seasons, had just four points in his first 10 outings this fall, but recorded nearly 60 percent of his 39-point output last season after the calendar flipped over to January and went on to earn All-America accolades. His team also went on to claim the ECAC championship and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade.
“We had a sniff of success with the NCAAs, and it’s something we want to get back to,” said Jubinville following a November home win against Colgate.
A prolific scorer in junior hockey, Jubinville finished with a plus-10 plus-minus rating last season and has been a plus-player most of his Princeton career, even as he has increased his personal point production every season.
“That’s just Jubs,” said Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky. “He changed his game for the good of his teammates, and is the epitome of an all-around player.”
Gadowsky has been saying for the past few years to any and all who will listen that Jubinville is actually a better defensive player than he is a scorer, and that his prowess in his own end of the ice actually keys his offensive success.
“Defensively, he’s as good as any forward, and he’s always on the defensive side of the puck,” said Gadowsky, who like Jubinville hails from Edmonton, Alta. “He has great speed, but his mentality is that of a defensive forward who also has great skills.”
Jubinville posted a total of 93 points in two campaigns with the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League prior to enrolling at Princeton, a place which wasn’t initially on his list even though he knew he wanted to go the NCAA route.
“Coach (Gadowsky) came to talk to me, and I was humbled,” admitted Jubinville, an economics major who did not personally know Gadowsky prior to being recruited. “He did awesome with the Alaska Fairbanks program, and this was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.”
Despite ultimately notching a school-record 21 victories last season, the Tigers really didn’t get going until suffering a two-step sweep at home to eventual national runner-up Notre Dame last December.
“That series didn’t go too well,” admitted the 5-10, 165-lb. Jubinville of the games against the Fighting Irish, which included a 7-0 setback. “The guys came back in good shape. After Christmas we had four lines who could put the puck in the net, and that carried us on through March.”
Princeton began calendar year 2008 with five straight wins, and eventually the Tigers took 16 of their last 23 games overall. Jubinville fashioned a nine-game scoring streak from early February through mid-March, and also wound up leading the ECAC in scoring. He also assisted on Princeton’s lone goal in its 5-1 loss to North Dakota in the NCAA Midwest Regional, a game in which the Tigers outshot the more-experienced Fighting Sioux.
Jubinville’s 39 points last year equaled his total output in his first two seasons at Old Nassau, and he also recorded nine multiple-point outings, including five contests with three or more points. He also copped Ivy League and ECAC Player of the Year honors, and accomplished something no Princeton player ever had before in being selected one of the ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, the same trophy named for the renowned Princeton athletic star of the early 20th century.
“That was a huge honor, and our guys helped me get in that position,” said Jubinville, who added he was also proud of his team’s success last season. “Hobey Baker was an alumnus, and knowing what he accomplished in both football and hockey, it’s pretty special.”
Jubinville himself has progressed every year he has been at Princeton, starting with a rookie campaign in which he said he looked and learned.
“The first year I took on a defensive role, and tried to find a place in the lineup,” he admitted. “My second year I played with a defensive guy in Darroll Powe, and he gave me the opportunity to jump in offensively.”
Powe made his NHL debut this season with the Philadelphia Flyers. His Princeton protg obviously learned his lessons well, considering the success Jubinville enjoyed last winter with a little help from his linemates.
“Last year I had real chemistry with Brett Wilson and Cam MacIntyre, and it’s pretty easy to get results playing with those guys,” said Jubinville.
The trio led the Tigers in scoring with 40 goals and 106 points to go along with a plus-23 rating.
Princeton’s No. 6 was a little too young himself to recall the exploits of a certain No. 99 in his hometown back in the 1980s; but Jubinville, 23, admitted that the championship exploits of Wayne Gretzky and the rest of the Edmonton Oilers still leaves an indelible impression upon him.
“You still hear so much about them and the glory days,” said Jubinville. “They played up tempo, and there were a lot of highlights.”
Now in his final season at Princeton, Jubinville is hoping to help the Tigers create some more up tempo highlights of their own as they strive to improve upon last year’s success.
“Obviously we want to win a championship,” he said. “We got the ball rolling last season, with four lines contributing and a great goalie (Zane Kalemba) who stood on his head, especially in the ECAC Tournament. The opportunity to play North Dakota, with their history, was a pretty good experience, and we’ll use it to our advantage this year.”
Especially since this time out, the Tigers won’t have the element of surprise that served them so well last season.
“It’s a fresh start, but we’re not going to sneak up on anyone,” said Jubinville. “We’ll have to come prepared every night.”