Tigers' trinity a miracle on ice

By Eric Dodds The Daily Princetonian

December 12, 2007

Princeton, NJ (CSTV U-WIRE) -- It's possible to spend hours coming up with nicknames for the starting front-line of the men's hockey team and superhero alter-egos for the skaters who comprise it. "The Death Line," the "Flash," "Spiderman" and the "Hulk" have all been suggested. At the end of the day, though, the gimmicks are irrelevant and unnecessary for the trio - what matters is that juniors Lee Jubinville and Brett Wilson and sophomore Cam MacIntyre have become the top line in ECAC Hockey.

Midway through the season, Jubinville, Wilson and MacIntyre are averaging a combined 3.72 points per game in conference play, leading the ECAC and neare the top in all of Division I hockey. Their strong play has been a major factor in the Tigers' fourth-place standing in the ECAC as the 2007 portion of the schedule comes to a close.

"In this league, you have to rely on every line," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "But obviously these guys have been tremendous for us so far."

Gadowsky first had the idea to put the trio together last year, but he didn't put it into action until the start of the 2007-08 season. Each member of the line had, however, played with one another at some point during his Princeton career.

"I put them together because they seem to intertwine well with some synergy," Gadowsky explained. "Jubs played well with Willy and with Mac, but all three of them are excellent hockey players, and that's the most important thing."

The results were immediate, as the line scored on consecutive shifts during Princeton's first non-exhibition game against Yale on Oct. 26. MacIntyre scored one of those goals and finished with the Tigers' first hat-trick of the season. All together, the line finished with nine points on the night.

"I never really had a moment where I thought, 'Wow, this is going to be a great line,' " MacIntyre said. "But we've been fortunate to have success early because it's given us a lot of confidence."

 

 

Jubinville, who led Princeton in scoring last season with 29 points on his way to being named the ECAC's Breakout Player of the Year by insidecollegehockey.com, is widely recognized as the fastest skater on the team, if not in the entire ECAC Hockey League. His talents, however, are not limited to his speed.

"Jubs is one of the best defensive players we have," Gadowsky said. "When you have someone like that who is so good defensively, you feel better about maximizing your offensive talent."

One of those offensive talents is MacIntyre, the six-foot, one-inch, 220-pounder who leads the Tigers in goals, with seven thus far.

"Mac is definitely capable of putting on some big hits," Jubinville said. "But he also has a great shot and probably has the best hands on the team."

The final, and perhaps most valuable member of the line, is Wilson, the Tigers' active career leader in points with 54.

"Willy has worked extremely hard on both sides of the puck, and he has the most creative offensive mind on the team," Gadowsky said.

Thus far, the trio has scored 16 of the team's 31 goals, which makes them the Tigers' top scoring line. That they are the only Princeton line unaffected by injuries also helps. It has given them plenty of time to gel and grow comfortable with one another.

"We've been fortunate enough to stick together thus far," Wilson said. "And as long as we're still producing, hopefully we'll be able to stay with the same guys."

While Wilson, Jubinville and MacIntyre have been scoring prolifically together, Princeton's other lines have struggled lately. Still, Gadowsky is hesitant to break up his league-leading trio.

"I've considered it, but I have a lot of faith in them and our other lines," he said. "We're just a little disappointed that the [other] lines haven't quite gelled yet, mostly due to injury."

"The other lines have a lot of younger players," Wilson added. "There are different roles for the other lines, but once they get comfortable, they'll start producing as well."

The top line, in part due to its frequent usage on power plays, has put each member in the top 10 in conference scoring. Jubinville and MacIntyre lead the way with 14 points apiece, while Wilson is not far behind with 12.

In just the first half of the season, MacIntyre has already exceeded his point total from all of last season. While much of the line's success is due to his improved skating, MacIntyre credits his junior counterparts with much of the line's scoring.

"[Jubinville and Wilson] both have really good offensive instincts, so they can create chances out of nothing," he said. "Jubs does it with his speed, and Willy makes some passes that just make you say, 'How'd he do that?' "

While the line has registered at least one point in every game this season, save for last Saturday's shutout loss against Notre Dame, the players still feel that there is room for improvement.

"All of us have been good offensively," Wilson said. "We just need to work a little bit defensively - our plus/minus has gone up and down, so we'd like to see that improve."

Still, along with senior forward Keith Shattenkirk, MacIntyre holds the best plus/minus on the team at plus one. Jubinville and Wilson are the only other players not in the red.

"For the three of us, possession is key," Jubinville said. "We just need to make sure we're not forcing the issue, and we'll continue to have success."

So while coming up with pseudonyms may not be one of their talents, Jubinville, Wilson and MacIntyre have the skills to stay together as the Tigers search for their first ECAC Hockey title in a decade.

"I love the line, and I'm having a blast playing with those guys," MacIntyre said. "As long as we're helping the team win, I hope we can stick together."

(C) 2007 The Daily Princetonian via CSTV U-WIRE

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