Princeton University Hockey: Baker Rink

I guess it was fitting that my last post was about profession fishing, considering that I posted it during the Bassmaster Classic.  Ike didn’t have a great tournament, but he’s still a great angler.

ANYWAY!

Did anybody see that Syracuse-G’town game on TV tonight? 
Wow!  We beat the hell out of the Hoyas! :-)

They even got the walk-ons in.  For me, it was kind of cool to see Ross DiLiegro get the chance to play on national TV.  One of my friends was his RA, and I checked him into his dorm on his first day at SU.
From one college sport to another….

I don’t know what it was about last week.  Maybe it was the weather, but for some reason, there were a couple of days when I woke up feeling amazing.  Refreshed, energetic, awake, and just in a good spirits.  All in all, it was a pretty good week.

Saturday was one of those feel-good days.

A couple of hours after I got up (again, feeling unexplainably energetic), my mom came to take my grandmom out for the day, and my dad picked me up.  We drove up to Princeton University to see their ice hockey team. 

We got there with no problem, although Princeton’s directions weren’t as good as they could have been, and they scared us a few times.  But no worries.

The parking garage was full, so by the time we got into the rink, we had missed the first 55 seconds of the game.  Not normally a big deal, but we missed St. Lawrence’s first (and only) goal. D’oh!

The drive to the University took us through the incredible wealth that is Princeton, NJ.  There were some amazing houses. 
But since we got there a tiny bit late, unfortunately I didn’t get to see much of the Princeton campus.  Maybe next time.
The little bit I did see reminded me of a cross between the University of Virginia and the Canadian Parliament.

If that’s what the campus reminded me of, the only arena that I’ve seen that bears even a slight resemblance to Princeton’s Baker Rink is St. Michael’s College School Arena in Toronto.  They’re both the home rinks to amateur teams situated on educational campuses.  And they’re both SMALL.

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It looks like this will be St. Mike’s final OHL season in Toronto, but fortunately, Princeton should be hosting hockey for a long time.

Although Baker Rink has already celebrated its 84th birthday, it has been lovingly restored and modernized somewhat in recent decades.  Hopefully this will keep it active for a long time.

Side-by-side, the two photos below give a cross-section of half of the rink (“rink” is a more appropriate term than “arena.”)

To the left, the seating bowl is inside.  You enter it through beautiful wooden doorways cut into the stone exterior.  I imagine this used to open to the outside.  Nowadays, there are glass-enclosed walkways that line the exterior of the stone walls.  Your ticket is collected before you get here, though, in a glass walkway.  I image these walkways were built to control access for ticketed events and to help limit the effects of the outside weather on the ice.  Assuming this is what was done, I have to admire this as a wonderful way to modernize and expand a building without changing its character at all.

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Baker Rink is named after Hobey Baker, after whom college hockey’s most valuable player trophy is named. 
In addition to being a hockey hall of famer, he is also in the football hall of fame.  Had he not been killed while preparing to return to the US after a stint with the Lafayette Escadrille in World War One (three confirmed kills, according to Wikipedia), he might be even more of a household name.

There are a couple of small displays about Baker, including this one.

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Here I am at the game: 

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I think that’s a really good picture of me!

What’s up with what my stepmom called “the Grizzly Adams look?”
Well:
1) Shaving cream and razor blades cost money (and occasionally trace amounts of blood) that I’d rather not spend right now because…
2) Nobody sees me nowadays, so I have no reason to bother.
3) Years of hygene still render me “unattractive,” so again, why bother?

Here’s my dad surveying the action.  He had played here once or twice many years ago.
Note how close the glass is; this is at the very back of the building!

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Between his Drummondville Voltigeurs hat and my Fribourg-Gottéron hat, we looked the part of hockey conaisseurs.

Heading up to Princeton, my dad was skeptical of the quality of play that we would see.  The ECAC is Division 1, which is technically the highest level of college hockey.  Most people agree that, while better than most, it’s still not quite the pinacle of college hockey.  And some some of the college games we’ve seen on TV haven’t been that great.  So my dad was skeptical.

But he was quickly won over.  Although the players and the rink were smaller than I expected (this was my first NCAA game), we were both impressed by the quality of play and the charm of the building.  With all tickets going for just $9, including free parking and a free program, it’s one of the best values we’ve seen in sports in a while.

Since the building is so small, it’s easy to get action photos:

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The majority of the 2100 fans it holds are seated downstairs, in about 8 rows of bench seating.  There is, however, a fairly large balcony above one end.  The game was pretty full, so my dad and I had to buy standing room only tickets.  This doesn’t really bother us.  There is plenty of room to stand, and we walked around and watched the game from a few different places.

I thought the balcony looked cool.  I’ve heard this is where the students usually sit, but students were few and far between on Saturday.
We spent about 10 minutes up there before returning to the standing spot that we picked out earlier.  The balcony isn’t bad, but the roof supports obstruct the roof quite a bit. 
(Yes, it’s a great building, but the obstructed views still leave it far inferior to Hersheypark Arena, which is still my all-time favorite).

Here’s a view from up top.

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I knew a guy at Syracuse who LOVED Princeton ice hockey.  With this intimate of an environment, it’s pretty easy to become a fan.
Old Time Hockey.

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Princeton’s men’s team plays in the NCAA’s Division 1 East Coast Athletic Conference. 

It is far and away the best amateur hockey within several hundred miles of here. 

College hockey is much bigger in other regions–namely, New England and the Great Lakes region. 
On the downside, that means Princeton is frequently overlooked by hockey fans in this area, as evinced by the fact that it took me over 24 years to make it to a game here!

But there is an up-side to the same thing.  If the team were more popular, this anachronistic gem of a barn would likely have been replaced long ago, and that would be a shame.

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Princeton beat St. Lawrence 4-1, but it was closer than that sounds.  The last two Princeton goals, one being an empty-netter, were scored in the final two minutes of play.

That was the end of a great weekend for Princeton.  The night before they beat Colgate.  That’s two wins against teams that are top-15 nationally and 1 and 2 in their conference, both of which had multiple NHL-drafted players.  That’s a great boost for an unranked team with no draftees as they heading into the playoffs!

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It’s no secret that I LOVE old sports venues, and intimate sports venues, and good values.  This was all of the above.  I’m actually a bit embarassed that it took me so long to check it out.

Believe it or not, my dad wants to go back next weekend!

Yes, he was truly won over.

After we got home, we went out to eat and I opened the birthday gifts that I talked about in my last post.  I also watched part of Forrest Gump on TV, which I love even more each time I see it.

My current hockey city and league tally

NHL (Philadelphia, Ottawa, Washington, New Jersey, Pittsburgh)
AHL (Hershey, Philadelphia, Syracuse)
ECHL (Trenton, Atlantic City)
OHL (Toronto)
QMJHL (Drummondville–1/3 of a pre-season game only; I had a bad experience)
NCAA Div. 1 (ECAC: Princeton)
ACHA Div. 3 (Shippensburgh in Hershey)
France Super 16 (Mulhouse)
France Ligue 1 (Strasbourg)
Switzerland LNA (Basel, Fribourg, Lugano)
Germany DEL (Freiburg)
IIHF World Championship (Ostrava)

Possibilities for this season: Reading Royals, NY Rangers, Binghamton Senators

Link du jour:  James Cameron says he has found Jesus.  LITERALLY!

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Out Cold
By Various Artists
Eve 6 – Anytime
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3 Responses

  1. Dude what’s with the beard? Gillette is losing money on that.

    Come on, do your duty as a clean cute white boy and shave that rag off!

  2. Err… clean CUT white boy. But I guess you’re cute too *rolls eyes*

    Typing Freudian slip?

  3. LOL!

    Of all of the members of your family that I have met, you are the LAST I’d have expected that slip from! LOL!

    Funny story…I a free Schick Quattro Titanium razor in mail the other day. Is the universe trying to tell me something?

    Posted 2/27/2007 at 1:43 AM by HiImGary

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