Monday, February 11, 2019

Weekend On Ice

TigerBlog starts out today by congratulating Cornell on its 17th straight Ivy League wrestling title and for running its league winning streak to 88 straight after its win over Princeton Saturday.

As you read Friday, TigerBlog was excited for the Tigers, who put themselves in position to challenge for the league championship, and for head coach Chris Ayres, whose endless optimism and energy have driven the Princeton wrestling resurgence. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Cornell was too strong up in Ithaca.

Princeton wrestling still has a long way to go in 2019, with matches at Penn and Drexel to end the regular season and then the EIWA (March 8-9 at Binghamton) and NCAA championships (two weeks later in Pittsburgh) on the horizon. Princeton will have a real chance at multiple All-Americas and perhaps even an NCAA champion or two.

One day, Cornell's streaks will end. Streaks always do. And on that day, TB hopes it's Ayres and Princeton who are the ones who make it happen. For now, though, it's congrats to the Big Red, again.

Also, TB would like to call your attention to a really good video piece done on men's hockey player Neil Doef, who suffered a spinal cord injury before coming to Princeton but who has still become a valuable member of the program. You can watch it here:
Speaking of the men's hockey team, the Tigers are still the defending ECAC champion, and here's a question you could ask the rest of the league: Would you want to play Princeton in the playoffs this year?

Princeton has struggled through much of the regular season, but the Tigers looked really good Saturday night in a 4-1 win over Yale at Hobey Baker Rink. Ryan Kuffner, the all-time leading goal scorer for Princeton men's hockey, scored twice in the game, making him the first Tiger to reach 70 for his career. Even more impressive is the fact that 11 different players, representing four different lines, had at least one point in the game.

Could that be a turning point?

There are three weekends and six games left in the men's hockey regular season, and Princeton is four points out of eighth place in the race for a home playoff series. Home or away, though, Princeton has the look of a team that can get hot quickly, and the rest of the league knows it. It'll be very interesting to see if Princeton can get on a roll like it did last year, when it went from seventh place all the way to the NCAA tournament.

Up next for Princeton is a trip to RPI and Union this weekend. Somewhat confusingly, the women are home next weekend, but it'll be Union Friday night and RPI Saturday. Why would that be?

There are two weekends left in the women's ECAC race, and Princeton is putting itself in position for its first regular season championship, though there is a long way to go. On the other hand, this past weekend went about as well for Princeton as it could have.

First, the Tigers took care of their business, sweeping Brown and Yale on the road by a combined score of 12-4. Those two wins did a bunch of things for Princeton, not the least of which was win an outright Ivy League championship.

In fact, Princeton finished its Ivy League schedule at 8-0-2.
Second, those four ECAC points clinched at least a home first-round playoff series, so the Tigers will be at Hobey Baker Rink the first weekend of March for the quarterfinals. And beyond that? 

Third, Princeton is now ahead by three points in the standings. The weekend began with a tie between Princeton and Cornell, both of whom were one point ahead of Clarkson, and the results helped Princeton immeasurably.

First, Clarkson beat Cornell Friday night. Then Cornell tied St. Lawrence while Colgate beat Clarkson.

As a result, the standings now have Princeton with 31 points, followed by Clarkson and Cornell with 28 each. Princeton finishes its regular season with a trip to Clarkson and St. Lawrence.

Princeton enters this last two weekends with a long way to go - literally the trip to Clarkson/St. Lawrence and figuratively to try to close out an ECAC championship. On the other hand Princeton has a little margin of error to play with here.

And, of course, it'll be very exciting to see how it all plays out on ice, for both the Princeton women and men.

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