PRINCETON — Hobey Baker Rink was plenty busy this weekend. The men’s team had games scheduled against Michigan State on Friday and Saturday night, and the women were slated to play No. 2 ranked Minnesota on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
After a big 3-1 win for the men on in the opener, they fell to the Spartans, 4-2, on Saturday.
“You have the same gameplan going into both games, and you’re not going to change anything when you come off a win,” said Tigers head coach Ron Fogarty, whose team fell to 2-7-1 with the loss.
“We wanted to get one goal by the ten-minute mark (of the third period, which they came into trailing 3-0), so we were ahead of schedule at that point. You want to throw pucks at the net, crash the net and it happened on both of the goals. It’s not fun losing, I’m not happy with it, but I thoroughly enjoy coaching these 28 guys. I see positive results here into December and throughout the rest of the season.”
Fogarty, in his first year coaching the team, is still toying with the playing roster in an attempt to find the best group that will help them win consistently going forward.
“It goes game-by-game,” he said. “You have to assess every week and see who’s putting in a solid week of practice. But the solidification of the top nine is starting to take shape. We wanted to match (Aaron) Kesselman’s line with their top line, and they stung us the first period with the goal. That’s when we needed an energy line, and Kesselman’s group can provide that.”
As for the women’s side of things, their head coach, Jeff Kampersal, is fortunate his head didn’t explode the first time he saw his team’s schedule this season. After a 6-1-1 start, it was this very stretch — hosting No. 5 Clarkson, No. 4 Quinnipiac and No. 2 Minnesota in a hellish two-week stretch — that many observers of the program knew would be a huge test for them. The Tigers now find themselves at 6-6-1, and after his team’s 5-2 loss on Sunday afternoon, Kampersal still had to make a tough admission when asked about the toughest time period in that schedule.
“It’s still not over,” he said.
“Harvard and Dartmouth are coming up, and they’re really good, so it’s been a really tough stretch, a character-building stretch. We obviously started the season off well. Today, I thought we got dominated pretty-much, (goalie) Kimberly (Newell) saved us big time. But I’m proud of the fact that our players don’t quit, they go until the buzzer goes and they can’t go anymore. They could have easily packed it in and it could have been worse. They showed a lot of heart and soul, and we’ll build from it.”
The Golden Gophers, one of the most skilled teams in the country, peppered Newell with 52 shots, forcing her to tie a career-high with 47 saves. Many of those shots came after turnovers in the defensive zone, which Kampersal understandably wasn’t particularly thrilled about.
“The turnovers were, I’m not sure of the appropriate word, but plenty and borderline absurd the amount of times we turned the puck over,” he said. “Basically, I thought Minnesota did a better job of stopping and starting. If we ended up getting possession of the puck, we had chances to skate it out, but they did a good job of a three-step backcheck, where yesterday we had a little more time. We took a little too much time today and turned the puck (over).”
If there was a bright spot, it was Newell, which came as no surprise to Kampersal, who coached Team USA in the 2013 U-18’s against Newell’s Team Canada squad.
“I was going to take her out in that last period just to give her a break to get ready for next weekend, and I debated it a lot, but her being a competitor, she’d want to go in there and battle it out,” Kampersal said.
“We owed her a little bit more than we gave her, but she was insane. Two years ago when she was a freshman, I coached against her for the USA and she was playing for Canada, and she basically stood on her head and won Canada a gold medal that game. That level that she played at then, she played at this weekend for sure.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com