The definitive history.
College hockey got its start in New Jersey in Princeton during the 1890s. Many students at the College of New Jersey—it didn’t become Princeton University until 1896—played hockey while attending boarding schools in New England and continued playing for fun in college. During the winter of 1894–95, a group of seven players invited a team from Baltimore to come north for a game. It took place on March 3, 1895 and was won by the Princetonians, 5–0. Among the players on the team was Art Wheeler (left), an All-American football player who was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In 1899, Princeton formally joined the Intercollegiate Hockey League (ICHL), which was made up of the eight “Ivy League” schools.
The 1910, 1912 and 1914 Princeton teams were champions of the ICHL and, by virtue of this title, the national champions. The star of the 1912 and 1914 teams was Hobey Baker, a transformational player in the sport’s early years. At this stage in its evolution, hockey positions were loosely divided between offense and defense so as not to exhaust players skating back and forth, from end to end. Modern line changes had not yet come into play. Baker was a fast, elusive skater and stick-handler who had more stamina than his opponents and thus could have an impact at both ends of the rink. His charges up the ice from his own goal to an opponent’s brought crowds to their feet, and made New York City “home ice” for many Princeton games.
In the years between the First and Second World Wars, Princeton became serious enough about its hockey team to hire outside coaches—most notably Richard Vaughan, who had played and coached at Yale. He led the Tigers from 1935–36 to 1958–59. A few years after Vaughan retired, Princeton became a member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC)/ Among those who followed Vaughan was Bill Quackenbush (right), an All-Star NHL defensemen who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame during the 1970s. He coached the men’s team and later the women’s teams at Princeton.
Princeton hockey failed to attain the status that its football and basketball teams did. They were often at the bottom of the ECAC standings and didn’t participate in postseason play until 1985, after several powerful New England schools left to form Hockey East. The picture brightened considerably for Princeton in 1991, when Don Cahoon became the team’s head coach. The Tigers had four winning seasons under Cahoon and made the NCAA Tournament in 1997–98—losing to eventual champions Michigan 2–1 in the quarterfinals. That season, Princeton won its first ECAC title, beating Clarkson 5–4 in double-overtime in the finals.
In 2008 and 2009, Guy Gadowsky led the Tigers to school-record 21- and 22-win seasons, and NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2008, Princeton beat Harvard 4–1 in the ECAC finals to win the Whitelaw Cup. Goalie Zane Kalemba, defenseman Mike Moore and forward Lee Jubinville were the stars of the team.
Among the Princeton grads who went on to enjoy success in the NHL were Syl Apps Jr., who starred for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1970s, and Jeff Halpern (left), one of the few Jewish players in the NHL during the 2000s.