PRINCETON, N.J. — Princeton was projected to finish near the bottom of the ECAC this season by various coaches and media members throughout the conference.
Ethan Doyle, for one, could care less.
“I learned never to give much credence to those things,” Doyle, the Tigers’ speedy senior forward, said when told his team was picked 10th in the ECAC media and coaches preseason polls. “They mean nothing, historically anyway. When Yale won the league going a way a couple of years ago, I think they were 10th or 11th. The year we won the championship (1998) we were sixth or seventh, and last year we were 10th again, yet had we beaten Cornell last year, we might’ve been third. So, really, the polls don’t matter. The league is competitive every year.”
The polls certainly won’t matter to the Tigers if they consistently produce the effort they did Saturday in a 3-0 exhibition win over Wilfrid Laurier at Baker Rink. In Wilfrid Laurier, a Canadian University located about 100 miles west of Toronto, the Tigers faced a chippy, somewhat speedy squad that previously lost to Michigan and Ohio State by a combined seven goals.
In other words, it was a good test for a Tigers team that hadn’t yet played a match and features only six seniors along with a combined 16 freshmen and sophomores.
“I liked our effort, we tried to be as thorough as we could in every single zone,” said first-year Princeton head coach Len Quesnelle. “Prior to the game, one of my comments to the players was to get out there and have a work ethic, something we’re in control of, and to have a good, positive attitude every shift out. I thought this was a good step forward for the team.”
One of the top lines for Princeton was that of seniors Kirk Lamb and Shane Campbell, and freshman Drew Morrison.
Campbell (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) provided a physical presence and was nearly impossible to move from the front of the opposing net. He assisted on a goal by Doyle with one second to go in the middle period, and scored to make it 2-0 just 59 seconds into the third. Morrison utilized his speed and opened up space for Lamb, the most creative of the trio with the puck.
Lamb, however, was forced from the game with 11 minutes remaining because of a sprained knee. He iced the knee afterward and has been listed as day-to-day.
“Shane and Kirk have good chemistry, and they bring a maturity to the game,” Quesnelle said. “The reason Drew’s on that line right now is he creates space by getting on loose pucks.
“Obviously, Lamb is a big part of our team. But if he’s down and out for a week, two weeks or a month, that’s a challenge for everybody else to step up their game.”
Another strong line consisted of senior Chris Corrinet, junior Brad Parsons and freshman Chris Owen.
Very much like the Campbell-Lamb-Morrison line, this trio features size (Corrinet, 6-3, 230), speed (Owen) and grit. Corrinet, property of the NHL’s Washington Capitals, got stronger as the match progressed, and scored to make it 3-0 just 2:25 into the third, redirecting David Schneider’s shot from the point three seconds after a Princeton power play expired.
“The line brings a bit of everything,” Quesnelle said. “Brad and Chris played together some last year, and Chris Owen is a real clever, skilled forward. They’re all from Massachusetts so they’ve got some chemistry automatically even before they get on the ice. Between the three of them, it’s a nice combination.”
Doyle and junior Josh Roberts also had strong efforts. Doyle was a key to the penalty kill, helping hold Laurier scoreless in four opportunities. Roberts hustled throughout, finishing checks and fighting through people for position.
“Ethan’s experienced in that situation — he’s killed a ton of penalties for us in the past,” Quesnelle said. “He’s willing to sacrifice his body to block a shot and he has good quickness — one of the basic ingredients of penalty killers, guys who can get around the rink quick and get spot to spot quick. He’s got real good spot-to-spot quickness.”
Junior Dave Stathos and sophomore Nate Nomeland combined for the 16-save shutout, although they were rarely tested as Wilfrid seemed more concerned with taking shots at Princeton players rather than shots at the Princeton net.
“They only had a dozen shots going into the third period,” said Quesnelle, whose team opens the regular season here at 7 p.m. on Friday against Niagara. “We did a good job of picking up in our own zone. We have more details to work out, but all in all, based on where we were last year at this time and where we are this year at this time, I like where we are right now.”
Scott Esposito covers Princeton hockey for The Trentonian.