Prier’s first-year outlook at Princeton ‘extremely positive’

No one has to tell coach Bob Prier how much is riding on the Princeton name every hockey season.

After all, the name on the university’s home ice says everything about the history, honor and privilege involved in pulling on the Tigers colors: Hobey Baker Rink.

Prier, who was an assistant coach and associate head coach with St. Lawrence from 2002 to 2011, takes over a clean, well-stocked house from Guy Gadowsky, who left to help the new Penn State program to its Division I start next year.

“The outlook is extremely positive. I’m very excited to get started here. There was a lot of momentum that Guy and his staff started up,” said Prier. “We have six of our top 10 scorers from last year, and an exceptional goalie tandem, returning. We’re operating on a bit of adrenaline.”

With several top talents at all positions, Prier expects his team to remain near the top of the power-play heap (22.8 percent, ninth in Division I last year) and for the Tigers’ forwards to keep up their hunger (37.3 shots per game versus 27.6 for its opponents).

“I’m extremely fortunate to inherit a team like this,” Prier said. “The meat-and-potato type of power play, 37 shots per game — those are things I can utilize and build on. At the same time, I’d like to shore things up defensively.”

Opponents will be watching closely where Andrew Calof goes on the ice. The Nepean, Ontario, -born sophomore won the ECAC rookie of the year award last year, scoring 33 points in 32 games (23 points in 22 league games).

“Andrew is the type of kid who will set his goals extremely high,” said Prier. “He is someone who is now known very well throughout the league, and the challenge for him is that he’s such a known commodity [that teams will be marking him closely]. He looks at it as a great challenge. He had a great summer, he worked hard and he is coming back in fantastic shape. We’re fortunate to have him on this club.”

About the Tigers

2010-11 overall record: 17-13-2

2010-11 ECAC record: 11-9-2 (tied for fourth)

2011-12 predicted finish (coaches poll): Eighth

Key losses: F Mike Kramer, F Kevin Lohry, D Taylor Fedun, F Matt Arhontas, D Cam Ritchie

Players to watch: Sophomore F Andrew Calof, senior D Derrick Pallis, junior F Eric Meland, junior D Michael Sdao

Impact rookie: F Aaron Kesselman

Why the Tigers will finish higher than the coaches poll: Strong power play; high shots on goal numbers; returning with experience at top of the scoring chart.

Why the Tigers will finish lower than the coaches poll: Growing pains with a new coach’s systems and tactics; struggle to get it going at home rink.