Puppy power: Princeton’s youth lead the way

Players of the Week*

*These are my selections; ECAC Hockey’s can be found here.

Player of the Week: Kyle Flanagan, St. Lawrence

The sophomore and Canton native picked a good time to have a big weekend. Flanagan buried three goals, tagged on a helper and registered plus-2 against Cornell and Colgate in St. Lawrence’s first two wins of the year. He began by

Flanagan paved the way for the Saints' four-point weekend. (Credit: Tara Freeman/SLU Athletics)

notching Friday’s power-play game-winner to lift the Saints over the Big Red for their first win of the season; he then upped the ante by scoring twice and adding an assist against Colgate as SLU picked up a critical four points to open the ECAC campaign.

Honorable mention: Broc Little, Yale (2-2–4, plus-4, PPG was also the GWG vs. Quinnipiac); Matt Arhontas, Princeton (3-0–3, 2 PPG’s at Yale and Brown); Chris Cahill, Yale (2-3–5, 2 PPG’s including the game-winner vs. Princeton); Sean Flanagan, St. Lawrence (0-4–4, plus-2)

Rookie of the Week: Andrew Calof, Princeton

Bred in the hockey hotbed of Nepean, Ontario (no, seriously: Steve Yzerman, Darren Pang, and Fred Brathwaite are Nepeanites, to name a few), Calof took another step toward putting his name next to theirs with a goal and three assists against Yale and Brown. Not only was the goal shorthanded, but all three of Calof’s helpers were of the first-assist variety… i.e., he directly set up three goals. His seven points in four games lead the Tigers, who secured their first win in a comeback at Brown on Saturday.

Honorable mention: Jeremy Wick, St. Lawrence (2-0–2, plus-2, GWG vs. Colgate); Justin Baker, St. Lawrence (1-2–3, plus-2); Greg Carey, St. Lawrence (1-2–3, PPG, plus-3)

Goalie of the Week: Matt Weninger, St. Lawrence

Rookie backstop Weninger earned his – and his Saints’ – first two wins of the season with a pair of spectacular outings. He blanked Cornell with 29 saves on Friday night for his first collegiate shutout, then came within one shot of duplicating the feat on Saturday with 31 stops on 32 shots against Colgate. For the weekend, Weninger saved 60 of 61 shots on goal, upping his save percentage to .928 and diminishing his goals-against average, now 2.04.

Honorable mention: Keith Kinkaid, Union (44 saves on 45 shots, shutout at Dartmouth); James Mello, Dartmouth (37-save SO vs. Union); Kyle Richter, Harvard (stopped 52 of 54 shots, SO vs. RPI); Allen York, RPI (saved 47 of 49 in a split weekend); Ryan Rondeau, Yale (56 saves, 60 shots against in a four-point weekend)

Tiger tales

Princeton has been a curious case of late, as a cataclysmic number of injuries laid waste to last year’s campaign and most of the players who had enjoyed success in the Garden State have since moved on.

This year’s team didn’t turn any heads in their opening weekend, dropping twin 2-1 decisions to Dartmouth and Brown in the Ivy Shootout.

“I don’t think we were disappointed,” said head coach Guy Gadowsky of the losses in New Haven. “I think the results were very accurate for where we are right now. We have 10 freshmen, but we [also] have two guys – [sophomore] James Kerr played his first games this weekend, and [classmate] Rob Kleebaum was out for much of last year as well – so really we have 12 guys without experience in the NCAA. So I thought for that, the results we got were quite accurate.

“We’re definitely young, but I think we’re definitely learning.”

The Tigers also suffered a few pre-season injuries that hinted at a repeat of last year’s triage-unit of a season, but Gadowsky was grateful that such a situation never came to pass.

“We had a few [injuries] that we didn’t expect early here, but nothing like last year. Nothing is like last year,” he mused.

Road show

The Tigers then faced the league’s ultimate test on Friday: A road game at Yale. Princeton hung on for most of the night, keeping the Bulldogs within a goal’s reach for most of the game, but in the end a loss was still a loss, 5-3.

The Tigers could’ve shrunk away from Saturday’s challenge at Brown, given their inexperience and 0-3-0 record… especially after Bruno bounced out to a 2-0 first-period lead.

Instead, Princeton stormed back with two goals by senior Matt Arhontas in 57 seconds to tie the game in the second period. Classmate Kevin Lohry put the Stripes ahead 3-2 in the game’s 32nd minute, but Brown wouldn’t roll over that easily and drew even just seconds before the second horn. Sophomore defenseman Michael Sdao to the rescue: his power-play goal 2:53 into the third period held up as the game-winner, and Princeton had split its first ECAC weekend.

“Yale is just a tremendous team; that’s going to be a real, real tough place to win,” Gadowsky said of last Friday’s task. “To come back on Saturday night to salvage the trip, I think the guys did an excellent job. Brown’s a very tough team, and once we got ahead 3-2, they stormed back and tied it, so you’ve gotta give our guys high marks for pulling it out in the third.”


Arhontas leads the team with five goals already, including both of the Tigers’ goals in the Ivy Shootout.

Matt Arhontas leads the Tigers with five goals in four games. (Credit: Princeton Athletics)

“He’s been a great leader since Day 1, since the day he stepped on campus. He’s got an incredible work ethic, he’s an over-achiever,” praised his coach. “In everything he does, he does it to the absolute maximum. The goals he’s putting up right now are certainly not a surprise to anybody.”

What is a bit of a surprise is the play of freshman Andrew Calof. This week’s Rookie of the Week (my RotW, at least) leads the team in scoring with a goal and seven points, despite his featherweight 5’10”, 165-lbs frame.

“He’s extremely deceptive. He’s a really, really fun player to watch,” explained Gadowsky, as best he could. “He does things in a very deceptive way; it’s going to take me a while to pinpoint how he does what he does, but he certainly is fun to watch. He’s got a ton of speed, but he’s very cerebral… he does things a little bit differently.

“He beats you with speed, but also with his mind. For such quick feet, he’s got a very calm head. If you look at the points he put up in juniors, it’s certainly not shocking. I don’t think it’s a surprise, but it’s fantastic to see: I think his transition was quicker than we imagined… It’s not surprising, but we didn’t expect to see it this quickly.”

Heir to Zane’s throne

There is one part of the game that the Tigers are in no hurry to settle: goaltending. Freshman Sean Bonar, sophomore Mike Condon and senior Alan Reynolds have divvied up the starts, and each has performed respectably, according to their coach.

“We don’t have a plan, we’re going to see how it plays out. In fact all three of them have had very good performances so far. Alan Reynolds played a great game up at Yale. Yale’s very, very good, and the score was certainly not indicative… if it wasn’t for Alan, it could’ve been a lot worse.”

As for Bonar and Condon, “they both had very good performances, obviously. We haven’t figured anything out as far as they’re concerned.”

Building blocks

Ultimately, this isn’t the same Princeton team that preceded Yale as ECAC Hockey’s super-fast, super-skilled goal machine. It will take time and a lot of work to get the Tigers back to the kind of team that ratcheted up 38 shots and 3.2 goals a game.

“It is a little over-simplification of what we did, and we feel that we’ve got a lot of work to get back to that, but that’s definitely what we want to shoot at… to play a very similar style to what we were able to do a couple years ago, and we’re certainly not there yet.”

My Top 20

1. Boston University
2. New Hampshire
3. Nebraska-Omaha
4. Yale
5. Maine
6. Miami
7. Michigan State
8. Minnesota-Duluth
9. Wisconsin
10. Michigan
11. Notre Dame
12. North Dakota
13. Union
14. Boston College
15. Colorado College
16. Michigan Tech
17. Denver
18. Alaska
19. Ferris State
20. Western Michigan