Of all 1,645 Division I men’s ice hockey players, Max Véronneau ’19 was the best — in December, at least.
An email notified the sophomore forward from Ottawa, Ontario, that he was the Hockey Commissioners Association National Division I Player of the Month, just the second Tigers player ever to receive the award. (Andrew Calof ’14 won it in January 2013.)
“I was pretty shocked at first,” Véronneau said. “I knew I had a pretty good month, but I didn’t know it was that good of a month. ... That’s just a testament to how good our team was during that stretch.”
The Tigers won five straight games in December, beating ranked teams from Quinnipiac and Minnesota State. After an early-January lull, Princeton returned to form with wins over No. 4 Penn State Jan. 28 and Ivy League rival Yale Feb. 3.
At 9–11–3, the team has surpassed its best win total of any of the last three seasons, and Véronneau’s honor is another indication that the program is heading in the right direction.
“With Max, he’s gotten better, even better than last year,” said Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty. “He’s kind of a quiet player. He’s not flashy, but he has a great change of speed. He’s smart. He knows when to attack and when to delay. He has a great hockey IQ.”
Véronneau and linemates Alex Riche ’19 and Ryan Kuffner ’19 made an immediate impact last year as freshmen. Kuffner was an ECAC All-Rookie selection and led Princeton in scoring, and Véronneau was second. Through Feb. 9, Véronneau led the team in scoring this year with Kuffner second. Freshman Jackson Cressey was fourth in points and second in assists. All of Princeton’s top 10 scorers will return next season.
Véronneau moved from center to wing this year so he’s not stuck so low in the defensive zone and can move into the offensive zone faster. Record-setting goalie Colton Phinney ’17 is the backbone of the defense. He broke the program mark for career saves with 2,952 Jan. 13, topping the previous best set by Ronald Dennis ’83.
“Having such a good goalie behind you, it makes everyone more confident,” Véronneau said. “People can make better, smarter plays with that confidence behind them.”
A longer version of this story appeared online Jan. 26, 2017.