A year ago, Molly Contini ’17 was taking a year off from school to recover from hip surgery. This season, the Tiger forward has returned to the ice at full strength — and then some — earning ECAC Hockey Player of the Month honors in November.
Contini led Princeton’s freshmen in scoring in 2012-13 with 10 points (nine goals and an assist), despite an injury that plagued her throughout the second half of her season. Through 15 games this year, she has scored six goals (a team high) and added seven assists.
Before coming to Princeton, the Ontario native spent three seasons in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League — the highest level of junior women’s amateur hockey in the province — twice leading her team, the Waterloo K-W Rangers, in scoring.
Scoring is in Contini’s DNA. Her father, Joe Contini, played four seasons in the NHL after three outstanding seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, which saw him set the record for most points ever in a single Canadian Hockey League Memorial Cup game. Contini says she has looked to him throughout her career and still goes to him regularly for advice.
“Still, the first person I want to talk after all of my games is my dad,” she said.
Head coach Jeff Kampersal pointed to Contini’s “maturity, her humbleness, and her sense on the ice” as evidence of her father’s influence.
“She’s a very cerebral player,” he added. “She’s a magician with the puck.”
Going a year without playing gave Contini a chance not only to rehabilitate her hip but also to brush up on her skating, something she and Kampersal agree has paid dividends this season.
“I think my skating has improved a lot,” Contini said, although she believes it still has “a long way to go.”
“Just being able to go to the rink and feel good is a huge difference,” she said of this season.
Princeton started its season strong, going 6-1-1 in its first eight games. Half of those games went into overtime, and three of those ended in one-point Tiger victories. That stretch also included a 5-4 victory over then-No. 6 Cornell, during which Contini found the net just 32 seconds into a second period that would see the Tigers strike three more times.
Starting in mid-November, however, Princeton lost six straight, with five losses to teams ranked in the top 10. Contini believes her team is about to turn over a new leaf. To do so, she says, the Tigers have to tell themselves they can beat highly ranked teams like Cornell.
“We’re almost ready to make that next step I think,” she said. “We’re trying to get away from the mentality of ‘we gotta get to the playoffs,’ [as opposed to] getting home ice advantage in the playoffs.”
“We had a really tough stretch in the last games,” she added. “We played No. 2, we played No. 4, we played No. 6 and we’ve been right there with each of them.”
The Tigers were shut out by No. 10 Harvard Friday but turned around and defeated Dartmouth 5-2 in Hanover Saturday. Kelsey Koelzer ’17 opened the scoring and Contini notched an assist as Jaimie McDonnell ’16 and Audrey Potts ’17 netted two goals each. The win was the first in three weeks for the Tigers and brought them to 7-7-1 on the season.
Women’s basketball is the first team in Ivy League history to open its season 8-0 after defeating Georgetown 83-54. The Hoyas kept it close for the first half but shot poorly in the second, allowing Princeton to finish the game on a 24-5 run. As she often does, Blake Dietrick ’15 led the Tigers in scoring, putting up 26 points. The Tigers will travel to Ann Arbor to defend their undefeated record against Michigan Tuesday.
Men’s basketball went on a 23-4 run with less than 10 minutes left to come back and defeat Stony Brook 77-64 Saturday. Guard Steven Cook ’17 doubled his previous best with a career-high 28 points. Now 3-6, the Tigers have yet to win a road game but will travel to St. Peter’s Wednesday before crossing the country to face California on Saturday.
The wrestling team nearly pulled off a major upset of No. 16 Northwestern during a successful Saturday at the Windy City Duals. Princeton easily dispatched Davidson and Cal Poly, 48-3 and 35-6, respectively, and defeated Eastern Michigan 26-11. Jordan Laster ’17, who went 4-0 on the day, won 5-3 over nationally-ranked Jameson Oster to start the Northwestern match, but a Northwestern’s Alex Polizzi edged out Abram Ayala ’16, 9-8, to seal Princeton’s fate.