Tuesday, February 16, 2016

And Last But Not Least, Go Tigers

Denna Laing spoke to the crowd at Baker Rink before Saturday's women's hockey game against St. Lawrence.

Well, not directly. It was recorded. It didn't matter. It was still amazing to hear the strength in her voice, all the way to the end, when she said "and last but not least, go Tigers."

Laing, as you probably know, is the Princeton women's hockey alum who suffered the massive spinal cord injury while playing professionally, in the Women's Winter Classic on New Year's Eve. The game Saturday was part of Denna Day, one that included different fund-raising events to help with Laing's medical costs.

TigerBlog's contribution was one of the #14Strong winter hats. It's very comfortable, by the way.

The first highlight of the day was definitely Laing's voice, which sounded so confident and so upbeat that it "gave me chills," said Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal.

The last highlight was supplied by Kelsey Koelzer, who rocked a goal in overtime to give Princeton a 4-3 win. It was a huge one for the Tigers.

John Thompson, when he was the men's basketball coach at Princeton, used to say the goal of each weekend was to get through it still able to achieve whatever your goal is without having to get any help from anyone else. That's TigerBlog's paraphrasing, but you get the point.

The women's hockey team achieved that this past weekend, even after its tough loss to Clarkson Friday night.

Princeton - who has already won the 2016 Ivy League title - enters the final weekend of the regular season with 27 points, tied with Colgate for third place, two points back of second-place Clarkson. Quinnipiac is in first, with 32. The top four teams in the league will get home ice for the playoffs.

Harvard is in fifth, with 25, so Harvard is still alive for home ice. St. Lawrence and RPI are tied for sixth with 20, which means they cannot play at home.

Princeton hosts RPI Friday and Union Saturday. Union is 12th in the league, with an 0-17-3 ECAC record. Harvard is at Colgate and Cornell.

What are the tiebreakers? Apparently, it's head-to-head, which is good for Princeton if it stays the way it is now, since the Tigers swept Colgate.

Should Princeton beat Union, then the Tigers would have at least 29 points, meaning Harvard would have to get two wins to tie the Tigers, with whom they split. What would the tiebreaker be then? Wins, which would also favor Princeton.

What does it mean? TB is pretty sure it means that if Princeton beats Union, it'll be assured of home ice for the playoffs, regardless of what else happens.

Another team that had a good weekend by John Thompson's standards is the women's basketball team.

Princeton entered its game Friday against Cornell in a three-team race for the league championship, even with Cornell with one loss, behind unbeaten Penn. Now it looks like a two-team race, after Princeton and Penn won their four games this weekend by a total of 87 points (including matching 71-51 wins Friday night).

Penn is 7-0 in the league. Princeton is 6-1. Everyone else has at least three losses.

Princeton and Penn are a combined 12-0 against the rest of the league. Of those 12 wins, there have been 11 by at least 15 points.

Princeton and Penn are at Yale and Brown next weekend, at Columbia and Cornell the following weekend and then home against Harvard and Dartmouth before their season-ending showdown on March 8 at Jadwin.

Will it be 13-0 against 12-1?

It was a busy weekend for Princeton Athletics, and TB doesn't want to shortchange anyone.

He does want to mention Cecilia Barowski of the women's track and field team, who ran a school-record 54.39 in the 400 on Staten Island Saturday.

And then there's the wrestling team.

Princeton defeated Columbia Saturday afternoon to set up a winner-take-all showdown against Cornell Saturday night for the Ivy title. And even though Cornell won 23-16, what Princeton has accomplished is astonishing.

Think about it. Would you have believed 10 years ago that Princeton would wrestle Cornell for the league crown? How about three years ago?

Congratulations to Chris Ayres and the entire wrestling program. Their day, TB is fairly confident, is coming.

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