Friday, February 26, 2016

18 In Action

Kelsey Koelzer is the kind of hockey player whom you immediately notice.

Even if you know little about hockey, you can't help but tell that she's a dominant force on the ice. TigerBlog should know this better than anyone, as he knows little about hockey and could tell right away this season that he was seeing a special player.

She's fast and strong and powerful, and she definitely exerts her influence on each game. It's impossible to miss, even for the casual hockey fan like TigerBlog.

As it turns out, TB was right. She is special. Koelzer, a Princeton junior, was named one of 10 candidates for the Patty Kazmaier Trophy, given to the outstanding player in women's college hockey. Koelzer is the only player from the Ivy League or ECAC on the list.

Certainly St. Lawrence is aware that Koelzer is for real. It's only been two weeks since she beat St. Lawrence with an overtime goal.

The teams, in fact, split a pair of one-goal games this year, each with a win at home. Now they'll get to see a lot of each other this weekend, as they face-off in a best-of-three ECAC playoff series at Baker Rink.

The women's hockey team is not the only Princeton team who will play this weekend. In fact, there are 18 Princeton teams who will be competing this weekend.


You have: men's basketball, women's basketball, men's hockey, women's hockey, men's swimming and diving, men's squash, women's squash, men's tennis, women's tennis, men's track and field, women's track and field, men's volleyball, softball, men's fencing, women's fencing, women's lacrosse, men's lacrosse and women's water polo.


Of those 18, there are 11 winter sports, six spring sports and men's volleyball, which is sort of both. This is what the crossover season is all about.

This weekend will see three (or maybe 3.5, if Yale can get a share of the Ivy men's hockey title) Ivy League championships decided, the postseason women's hockey playoffs, critical games in both basketball races and some good early-season spring events.

Just so you know, the average Division I school has around 18 teams total, at least according to the NCAA's website. Princeton has 18 who will play this weekend.

It's one of the things that's most special about Princeton and the Ivy League. It's a commitment to broad-based athletic participation, as part of the overall educational experience of the athletes.

This weekend, there's something for everyone.

Let's start with women's hockey. The Tigers have put together one of the best seasons in program history, with a 21-6-2 record that ties the program record for wins, a top 10 national ranking and a home playoff series. The next two goals are to reach the ECAC final four and the NCAA tournament, and it's St. Lawrence - with those two close games - who stands in the way.

If you're a Princeton fan, you'll root for St. Lawrence if it gets past Princeton, because St. Lawrence is the school that did the most to start the #14strong social media campaign after Denna Laing's injury. But also if you're a Princeton fan, you're hoping it doesn't come to that.

The women's games at Baker will be 3 today, 3 tomorrow and 2 Sunday if necessary. There is no admission charge.


There will be admission charged for the men's hockey games, which will be against Yale and Brown, tonight and tomorrow at 7. Princeton will be on the road for the ECAC playoffs next weekend, and the biggest subplot of the weekend will be to see if the Tigers can keep Yale from earning a share of the Ivy League championship, which the Bulldogs would do with a win tonight. A tie or loss and Harvard wins the championship outright.

The three Ivy League championships that are up in the air are in men's swimming and diving, men's track and field and women's track and field. The swim meet is at Brown, and Heps indoor track is at Cornell.

As usual it figures to be between Princeton and Harvard in the swimming and diving. Princeton is the defending champion in the event and has won five of six.

The last time the champion even included someone other than Princeton or Harvard was 1993, when Yale shared the title with Harvard. The last time Princeton or Harvard didn't earn at least a share (obviously before the champion was decided by the championship meet)? How about 1970, when Penn and Yale shared.

In men's track and field Princeton hopes to win again, a year after its record-setting win. The last time the winner wasn't Princeton or Cornell at men's indoor Heps? Penn, in 1997.

As for the women, Princeton won the cross country championship in the fall, but the Tigers are not the favorite heading into the meet this weekend.

Oh, did TigerBlog mention his colleague Kristy McNeil's day tomorrow?

She will be at women's lacrosse at 1 against Georgetown, followed by women's hockey at 3 and men's hockey at 7, not to mention all of the social media and everything else for both Heps track meets. For her weekend you can throw in two hockey games tonight and more track and field Sunday.

And then there's basketball.

Princeton plays Columbia tonight and Cornell tomorrow, the men home and the women away.

Both teams are heading down the stretch of the league races, with five games left, two this weekend, Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend and Penn March 8.

Both teams are playing for the championship, and it won't be easy for either one. The women trail Penn by a game, where they've been since the two-point loss to the Quakers in the Ivy opener in January.

The men are even with Yale with one loss each, one game ahead of two-loss Columbia (though Princeton still has the extra game against Penn). Columbia is basically playing for its chance, and the Lions have a lot of seniors of who have been pointing to this season. Add to that the heartbreaking loss the Tigers dealt Columbia two weeks ago in NYC, and you know Columbia will be ready to go.

There are 18 teams in action this weekend for Princeton. The complete schedule is HERE.

There's something for everyone.

TigerBlog recommends women's hockey and then men's basketball tonight. You can get a nosh in between.

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