Category Archives: Princeton

Defenders of the Orange and the Black, hockey or not.

Suny B Psycho Squad, Assemble

I nearly missed my ride to Newark Airport screaming at my Princeton Tigers in the semifinal of the first Ivy League Men’s Basketball Tournament (seems like it needs a name, and a championship trophy name). The game went into overtime, with Princeton’s ability to tie it in the waning seconds presenting a kick-save opportunity for a game in which they never led. Along the way, I channeled every single strange event memory I could dredge up, from Carril era nicknames for players who made poor shot selections to performing my own, best-viewed-privately version of the Suny B Psycho Squad cheer while wearing this shirt.

No manner of weirdness, no talisman, no historical reference, no alliterative profanity is too far when you are on the doorstep of the big dance, wishing for a ticket to get in, to relive your salad days and remember great friends for two weeks. If the Olympics are an international house guest that makes you feign interest in strange sports in the name of national pride, then March Madness is a mini college reunion of friends with whom you cheered until your throat and head hurt equally.

Here’s what I remember from various Princeton basketball games between 1982 and 1984:

My friend Ed had a rubber chicken that we brought to most games our senior year. The Columbia game that winter was 11-10 at halftime (no shot clock, and verrrryyy long possessions) and ended with Princeton losing 33-31. I said some mean things that night and we did a few visual puns with the chicken that would be unacceptable on the Monmouth bench (or anywhere else with respectable adults present).

Princeton clinched an Ivy Title, and an automatic tourney bid, in the last game of the year versus Penn, which I listened to on my Walkman (!!) in the EQuad terminal room (think about it: you could take cassettes with you, but you still had to go to where the computers were). My friend Lemon knew I was working on my thesis, and brought me a stromboli from Victor’s about an hour after the game. There were no cell phones, no email, no texting, she just knew where I would be and what would make that evening perfect. It was one of the finest acts of friendship during my four years as a Tiger.

Princeton had an alt-cheering force known as the Suny B Psycho Squad, of which friend Ed and a number of other arm’s length friends were members. Their cheers featured animal onomatopoeia, hand-lettered poster board signs to goad us into joining them, and in later incarnations, the rubber chicken providing aerial support. It was fun and goofy and nearly impossible to explain, but the people who “got it” can still trigger a tight network effort on Facebook with a mere “E I E I E I O”, the clarion call, shofar-like, of the assembly of the Suny B team.

Ed’s rubber chicken disintegrated somewhere along the travels of married life with kids. I bought him a new one a few weeks ago, in the middle of Princeton’s run to a 14-0 Ivy season. It seemed the right thing to do.

Slowly march, forward, thirty-three years and Princeton finds itself in the Ivy Tournament finals, an invitation to dance forty minutes away. Penn has been defeated, at the Palestra, again, and in the course of yammering online I heard from Ed, Lemon, and a host of other friends who recognized the animal sounds and requirement to cheer in non-obvious ways.

For one shining moment, we were all on the bleachers again, rubber chicken in hand, despite a few thousand miles of geography and three decades of life.

Movember and The Parros Stache

Movember is an organization that raises awareness for men’s health issues, particularly prostate cancer. As part of their efforts, they sponsor a mustache growing contest as a way to garner funds, “change the face” of men’s health issues, all under the mashed-up banner of Mo (stache) and the month of November.

Snowman and Tiger favorite George Parros of the Anaheim Ducks, wielder of a big stick but bigger stache (the Ducks sell fake Parros-staches in the concession areas), shaved his trademark non-playoff facial hair for Movember. Just another reason to like the guy.

Tiger Biscuit In The Basket

Thanks to Wally McDonough for this one.

Last night was possibly the first time two Princeton University hockey alumni have scored goals in the NHL on the same night. Darroll Powe scored for the Flyers (his second) and George Parros picked one up for the Ducks (unassisted, his first of the year) on a slick breakaway off of a blocked shot. (NHL video link)

It’s also something of a banner year with five former Tigers in the league. In addition to Powe and Parros, Jeff Halpern (2 G 1 A) is skating for the Canadiens, blueliner Mike Moore just played his first game with the San Jose Sharks, and Kevin Westgarth has skated seven games for the LA Kings.

Hip, hip, tiger, tiger, biscuit, basket, boom, boom, bah, then cue Muse’s Uprising.


Princeton senior Cam MacIntyre was signed by the San Jose Sharks today. He’s off to the little Sharks in Worcester, MA, and it remains to be seen how he’ll recover from a senior year that left him watching the game from the stands, injured, more than playing on the ice. But he joins former teammate Kevin Westgarth in the AHL, and I’m thrilled that the Sharks want to place a bet on him. Since Jeff Halpern re-ignited a Princeton presence in the NHL, it seems like there’s at least one player a year who makes the jump from ECAC to AHL to NHL: Chris Corrinet (Capitals), George Parros (Kings, then Ducks), Westgarth (Kings), Mike Moore (Sharks), Darroll Powe (Flyers), and now MacIntyre.

Also signing an AHL contract this week was Tiger goalie Zane Kalemba (Norfolk Admirals). Most of these guys weren’t drafted; they are being signed as free agents so that the clubs can get a look at them and let them mature even further as players.

Diversity, Cures and Hockey

There’s a debate running through the more erudite sub-nets of online discussion about the morality and desirability of “curing” Down Syndrome. I’ve been pointed at two pieces by fellow Tigers and both struck a chord with me. Lisa Belkin is the New York Times Motherlode parenting blogger and she raises the basic question about the desirability of a potential cure for trisomy 21. More fundamental (in many senses) is Amy Becker’s profoundly human and personal view of the issue.

If we don’t rush to subjugate people who are not like us, then we want to cure them. Simply accepting and celebrating their differences is the root of diversity.

I’ll throw in a plug for the Best Buddies campaign to Spread the Word to End the Word, namely, the label applied to people with developmental disabilities, culminating in events on March 3rd. (Side note: If you want to know why I stopped reading “Fake Steve Jobs” and find Dan Lyons to be a less than ideal journalist, it’s because of his multi-root derivations of the same word, applied to anyone or anything he wanted to skewer.)

Conversely, an intent to drive acceptance is why Bubba and I have so much interest in Special Hockey, the DareDevils program, and Jon Schwartz’ EveryBody Skates NJ effort to allocate ice time for special needs players. Professional sports has, for decades, been a harbor of intolerance: of race, religion, language, geography. The only way to address it is to instill inclusion in the next generation of athletes.

To paraphrase Amy Becker, hockey isn’t about solving quadratic equations. It is, at its heart, about rushing to the side of a teammate, whether that’s after scoring a goal or just finishing a good shift, on the ice or off. Hockey remains a good proxy for sportsmanship in life.

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USA Hockey Magazine’s Half-Coverage

An Open Letter to the Editorial Staff of USA Hockey Magazine:

I’m a bit surprised that the “Ivy on Ice” article in the November issue of USA Hockey magazine only talks about the men’s game. Co-education has existed in the Ivies for almost four decades, and the women’s game has a younger but equally important history:

  • The Patty Kazmaier Award, the women’s equivalent to the Hobey Baker Award, was named for Patty Kazmaier, Princeton forward and daughter of Heisman Trophy winner Dick Kazmaier.

  • Laura Halldorson (Princeton) campaigned for women’s hockey within the ECAC, to the point where it gets equal billing on their website and coverage. Laura also coached her home state University of Minnesota women’s ice hockey team to back to back national titles.

  • With the attention foisted upon the upcoming Olympics, USA fans are bound to see any number of Ivy-affiliated women’s players, few more recognized than Angela Ruggiero (as much as it pains me to type it, Harvard). After facing the Donald on The Apprentice, what’s to fear from the Canadians and Swedes?

  • Gillian Apps played at Dartmouth and then took home the gold medal in Torino with the Canadian women’s team. Her brother Syl Apps III played for Princeton (and later Trenton in the ECHL), her father Syl Apps Jr. played with the Penguins and Kings, and her grandfather (Syl Apps) is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

    USA Hockey usually does an outstanding job giving equal billing to men’s and women’s hockey, and I’m suprised at this omission.
    I’ll forgive leaving out Darroll Powe (Flyers, Princeton, and one of the few players to score on Brodeur twice this year).

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  • The Kids Are Alright (I Think…I Hope)

    It’s been progressively harder to get ready for Devils hockey each year. Training camp became a mystery to be revealed by proper beat writers, rather than open to the public as it was at South Mountain Arena. While other teams play exhibition games daily, the Devils haven’t played in a week. At least tonight’s game was on MSG (and MSG2, minus any Devils broadcast crew).

    There were a bunch of things to like tonight: Cory Murphy looked like he could skate with the big boys and delivered on the third power play according to expectations. Halischuk had 4 shots and seemed to control the puck well once he settled down in the second period. Rolston and Shanahan showed poise. Rod Pelley played a very solid game at center. Given that Elias is still broken, Parise had the night off, and the blueline was missing Mottau and Salvador, it was a respectable game.

    And then the not so good: Colin White’s puck control is still a random event generator. Over his stick at the blue line, under or around him behind the net, bad passes — I saw enough of that in the Carolina playoff series. He either needs to seriously get to work or get ready to be a 7th defenseman. I wasn’t in the locker room when White and Langenbrunner went into the verbal corner, but maybe Jamie is pressing White as well.

    Finally, the truly weird: The Islanders broadcast was a John Tavares love-fest. Too bad he only had one shot, but turned the puck over more times than I do in a beer league game, and got his pocket picked by that ever-shifty Danius Zubrus. Tavares will most likely grow into a first-line player, but he was much more Daigle than dangle tonight. I had much more fun watching Brett Westgarth play defense for the Isles — Princeton ’07, minor league grinder, now following his younger brother Kevin (Princeton ’07 as well, LA Kings) to the bigs.

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    Summer 09 CD Frenzy

    Every summer, I try to make a pilgrammage to the Princeton Record Exchange. My affiliation with Barry and his floor-to-ceiling crates of vinyl goes back to the spring of 1980, when I was a wide-eyed high school senior who happened into this used record store that just opened on Nassau Street. I never looked at Sam Goody the same way again. Since moving out of the Princeton area, trips to the (somewhat) new and highly expanded Record Exchange are now something of field trip proportions, requiring planning, a plan, and time to enjoy the spoils.

    Planning: Retrieve all of the DVDs and un-wanted, duplicate and non-imported (into iTunes) CDs sitting in the basement. This typically nets somewhere from a dozen to a hundred trade-in items. Plan: A list of obscure items, obscure artists and things I won’t buy new (or via the iTunes store) that would thorough rock my crappy speakers for, say, $3.99. Lots of jazz, random classical, and the sometimes “best of” collection make those lists. Time: music to listen to until Labor Day.

    This year’s haul:
    Chickenfoot, debut album. Swap Eddie Van Halen and Joe Satriani, and in ex-RHCP drummer Chad Smith, and this rocks. It’s not rock(et) science, but it sounds good with the windows down.
    Burton/Metheny/Swallow/Sanchez Quartet Live. I adore Pat Metheny, and the Peter Max cover sold me. Good vibe, literally.
    The Name Of This Band is Talking Heads, for about half of retail, and the recent issue includes a half dozen previously unreleased tracks.
    Dream Theater, Black Clouds and Silver Linings. I’m still searching for a somewhat current Yes replacement.
    Nickelback, Dark Horse. OK, I like Nickelback (strong hockey association since they played the NHL Awards ceremony back in 2004), but I almost passed on this when the above-wrapper label proclaimed “11 new classics”. Huh? Doesn’t something have to be popular for a while, and then acheive a certain cultural stickiness, before it’s a classic? Although there’s stickiness in abundance, or at least references to it, here.
    Marillion, Season’s End and Holidays In Eden. I picked up a British prog-rock magazine on a newstand, and it had a sampler CD of a bunch of bands with strong UK roots but almost no US following. Marillion, Panic Room, Mostly Autum, Godsticks: Hit the first, got the others on
    Phish, two live ones.
    Steve Howe, Homebrew 3. Perfect example of something that I like but not enough to pay full boat. Something Bubba and I can enjoy in the winter.
    Others making the cut: Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jeff Beck (not the electronica-emo-whatever guy, the guitar guy), Bucky Pizzarelli, Mike Stern, Miles Davis, and a Steve Hackett (ex-Genesis 6/12 string man) blues release. I have finally counter-balanced about three years of ignoring the Nick Santoro rule of buying music: get one jazz release for every three rock records, because it will keep you open-minded and sane.

    Given that the Devils’ off season is only slightly more tedious than raking seaweed off of a Jersey beach, I’m opting for sanity through guitar therapy.

    MoCCA and Jewish Comics

    In case you haven’t noticed, I’m finding little to write about in the hockey world (and won’t have much to say until the draft and free agency roll around). At the same time, I’m moving more and more of my non-work related blogging, rambling and insanity here. Hence the new categories. I’d like to say that I’m doing it to mess with Google’s AdSense algorithms, but that implies far greater reach and impact than I have. I’m doing it because blogging about a variety of topics is like daily exercise for your brain.

    This weekend is the annual Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival. Finally having outgrown the semi-random floor layout in the Puck Building, this year the show moves up to the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City, on Lex between 25th and 26th streets (and according to the my sister, the home of some truly great Indian restaurants). In addition to seeing personal favorites Jeph Jacques, Meredith Gran and Richard Stevens, I inevitably find some new Jewish-themed artists, writers or print materials. There’s a great summary of Jewish-themed comics and their presence at MoCCA at the Jewish Comics blog. Last year I had a short but informative conversation with Miriam Libicki, whose comics about serving in the Israeli Army gave me a tremendous perspective of what my two “adopted Israeli daughters” will face when they enlist this summer. I discovered Joann Sfar and her Klezmer-themed comics, one of the bases for a 2007-08 Princeton University freshman seminar. And of course, Meredith Gran is Jewish; Steven’s Diesel Sweeties character Pete is Jewish; and Jeph Jacques has captured enough OCD in Hannalore to make me wonder if she (or the artist) has a Jewish mother hiding in that well-ordered family tree.

    I’ll be tweetin’ and meetin’ from 11am on Saturday, with my newly-minted Moo cards literally in hand.

    Defining Old

    This weekend marked my 25th Reunion at Princeton University. Princeton Reunions are a beer-drenched spectacle that occur every year, rain or shine, and shine a spotlight on the 25th Reunion class. We got to lead the annual P-rade of alumni through campus; we had reserved seats in the reviewing stands to watch the other classes and floats stream by, and my classmates were front and center for all manners of events, discussions and hideous wardrobe combinations.

    A quarter center removed from higher education, you’re supposedly in the “parent class.” It’s a rough generational boundary, and indeed, many of my classmates have kids who either just started or will be starting college. Leading up to the weekend’s parties, I began to define “old” in a variety of new ways, helped along by various classmate’s running commentary:

    Old is when you have more repaired or damaged limbs than intact ones. I hit that point in 2004, when my broken left leg joined my herniated cervical disc, broken right foot, and broken left arm. I broke a few toes on my left foot earlier this year for good measure, so the fixed-in-post extremities now outnumber the good one 4-1.

    Old is when your “haircut” extends to your eyebrows and ears and not as much to your head.

    Old is when you wake up earlier than you used to go to bed, and feel worse.

    Old is when your musical abilities need to be assisted with beer and volume.

    Technically I should feel old, having reached a milestone measured in time and not accomplishment. But the weekend left me feeling invigorated, with perhaps a bit of perspective. I watched P-rade go by, something Princetoniana legend Freddy Fox once described as “watching your life in reverse”, with the Old Guard leading the way through the younger classes. Hearing the stories of reunions postponed during World War II, and the extensive military service of the classes of the mid-1940s, put the phrase “Princeton in the Nation’s Service” into a more fitting frame of reference. I saw the tiger mascot riding in a VW Bug, and thought of my classmate and club-mate, a sometime football game tiger mascot, who committed suicide before our first major (5 year) reunion.

    Most of all, though, I set some simple goals this weekend: I want to join the Old Guard one day (at my 66th Reunion, fittingly to be celebrated in 2050). I want to march in the P-rade on an annual basis, and rejoin my friends Alan and Jordan who haven’t missed one of the 26 P-rades since we were in caps and gowns together. While there were myriad ways to count accomplishment in this weekend’s gathering including endowed buildings, vacation homes, sports cars, private charities, and positions of power and influence, I just want to get old and remain part of something much older and longer-lived than any of us. To do that, and to tell the story, is a sport in and of itself.