Véronneau ’19 leads a fertile crop of young scorers

Max Véronneau ’19 and the Tigers return to action against Penn State Jan. 28.
Beverly Schaefer
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, Ont., that he earned 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.”

The day before Véronneau was named the ECAC Player of the Month after leading Division I in assists (10), power-play goals (4), and points (16) in seven December games and helping the Tigers go 5-2 including wins over ranked teams Quinnipiac and Minnesota State.

“It was a huge honor,” Véronneau said. “It means a lot. That’s just a testament to how good our team was during that stretch. … We were playing so well together. My line mates were playing well, our [penalty-killing unit] was playing well. It’s a testament to how well the team was playing.”

Princeton’s offensive production keys its playoff hopes coming out of the exam break. The Tigers face No. 4 Penn State, led by former Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky, Jan. 28 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. After that, the schedule includes four more weekends of ECAC games. At 7-11-2, the Tigers already surpassed their best win total of any of the last three seasons. 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.

“He makes the players around him better. We lost him for the Colgate game, and we know if he was on the ice that tie could have been a win. He’s an impact player that we need, and we need more players like Max to keep joining our program.”

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. Véronneau leads the team in scoring this year with Kuffner second. Freshman Jackson Cressey ’20 is third in points.

“Our top six scorers have had career years this year,” Fogarty said. “That’s what you want through the maturation process and getting older and gaining experience. Players have their career years each year and get better.”

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.”