Web Exclusives: From the P-Nut Gallery
a column by Nate Sellwyn nsellyn@princeton.edu

For an alternative view of the seven-week rule, see President Tilghman's President's Page in February 26, 2003, issue.

December 17, 2003:

Canadian Ice Dream
The year's first snowfall evokes memories of hockey

It's snowing on campus. Blizzard-like. Montreal-like. Canada-esque. There are great white mounds outside my window, and they aren't the rugby team out on a run. Winter has just arrived at Princeton, and it's making me miss my youth. Were I back among the maple syrup and bacon today, I'd certainly be outside hosing down the backyard. After all, once it gets this cold in Canada, there's only one thing to do — break out the skates and start playing hockey. Sweeping down the ice with the wind in your face and the chill at your back is the purest of Canadian pastimes, the essence of sport at the amateur level. Sure, our pro teams don't have very much money. Sure, all the best Canadian players are far more likely to skate for American teams. It doesn't matter on a cold, clear day. That's when Canadians remember best that hockey is our game.

The National Hockey League paid tribute to that on November 23, when it played the first regular-season outdoor game in league history. More than 57,000 hardy Canadians braved subzero temperatures to watch the Montreal Canadiens defeat the Edmonton Oilers, 4-3. Montreal goaltender HYPERLINK "http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/players/1420/" Jose Theodore wore a ski cap over his helmet. Both teams replaced traditional sports drinks with hot tea on the bench. How much did it mean to my people? Well, Mark Messier — still an active player with the New York Rangers! — flew up to Edmonton just so he could skate with Oilers Alumni squad in a pregame exhibition match. I know ESPN is showing commercials that say hockey is "made in America." Forget it. ESPN shows hockey on Thursday nights. Canada shows three games every Saturday, on the same show, without fail. The show? Hockey Night in Canada, the longest running program in Canadian television history.

You guys have football. Monday Night Football, remember? That's yours. The sport even accommodates your holidays! I didn't know they played two games on Thanksgiving Day. That's fantastic... and it's not going to happen in Canada, since the CFL ends weeks beforehand and we... um... already had our Thanksgiving. I was back in Montreal over your annual turkey feast weekend, and there was barely a soul up there — except for the three roommates I'd brought with me — who knew there was a holiday going on down here. Yet for Americans, it's one of the biggest days of the year. It means eating, it means football, and it means patriotism. Sport is bound tightly to national identity, and the snow outside will make any Canadian remember that.


So much for the P-Nut predictions, huh? Let's look back at the wisdom of my calls:

Field Hockey — "I see an Ivy title for field hockey, and could even see goalie Allison Nemeth '07 taking the team deep into the NCAA Championships in late November."

Or not. They got that Ivy title, their 10th straight, but NCAA glory wasn't in the cards for the Tigers. No.7 Penn State used a strong goaltending performance from Annie Zinkavich to down the Tigers 3-1 in the first round. It was the second time this season the Tigers had fallen to the Nittany Lions, who also bumped Princeton from the tournament last year.

Men's Water Polo — "This may be the team's best shot a trip to the NCAA tournament, and the P-Nut believes Princeton will sink the Midshipmen."

Battleship down. Navy controlled the pace all through the Eastern Championships' final match, and really beat Princeton worse than the 8-6 final score reveals. Nonetheless, the Tigers compiled a 23-4 record en route to both an ECAC Championship and a Southern Championship, and definitely had one of their most successful seasons ever.

Women's Soccer — "Esmerelda Negron '05 and Emily Behncke ''06 will make short work of Princeton's next two Ivy opponents, Cornell and Penn."

Foul on the P-Nut. I thought Princeton would force Dartmouth to go undefeated, and at least grab a share of the Ivy title. Except then they lost to Penn, 3-2, in their regular season finale. Of course, they had the NCAA tournament to look forward to. Except then they lost in the first round, 2-1 to Villanova. The bright spot? Esmeralda Negron '05 was named the Ivy League Player of the Year, and tied Princeton's 22-year-old school record with 13 goals this season. Here's a prediction you can count on — she'll break that sucker next year.


Remember how much I love men's water polo? Apparently someone else does, too. You may have noticed how the goprincetontigers.com site changed a little two weeks ago. The Tigers FanPoll asked, "Who do you think has been the best Princeton athlete of the fall?" Among the options was Dan McKenna '04, the men's water polo driver. His name was absent from the list two days later, after someone hacked into the site and voted for him ... several thousand times.

Check back after Christmas, when I'll size up the Tigers' chances on the hardwood.


You can reach Nate at nsellyn@Princeton.EDU