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Princeton’s Koelzer Looking for More in Senior Year

By Dan Scifo - Special to, 11/21/16, 10:00AM EST


After breakout junior season, defenseman aims even higher

Kelsey Koelzer, a standout defenseman at Princeton University, set herself up for a breakout junior season.

Now, she’s looking for more as a senior.

“It definitely was something that built from my sophomore year,” Koelzer said. “I was a little bit surprised at how well it went, but I was pushing myself extra hard and expecting to build off my successes as a sophomore. My junior season was definitely stronger than I could’ve imagined and I was very happy with it. I really think it was the culmination of my work as a sophomore.”

Koelzer, a First Team All-American, finished second on the team in scoring last season with 17 goals and 33 points. She was voted the Defender of the Year in the ECAC and a top-10 candidate for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the best player in women’s college hockey.

The recognition meant a lot to Koelzer, who put in a lot of behind-the-scenes work to reach this point. She realizes the successes as a junior are going to make her senior year that much tougher. But she’s up for the challenge.

“I expect a lot out of myself,” Koelzer said. “Now that I know what it takes, gaining confidence and playing at a high level it will allow me to build off last year and have even more success as a team and individually moving forward.”

Koelzer’s play also opened eyes at the USA Hockey level as the Horsham, Pennsylvania native was invited to the USA Hockey Women’s National Festival in August. She thought the invite could be a possibility after a sophomore season that led to last year’s breakout as a junior.

“After my junior year, I really had my hopes up of getting the invite,” Koelzer said. “Once I got that invite, I knew I was going to have to go in there, play with confidence and leave it all out there.

“It was really the culmination of the work I put in throughout my college career to get that recognition.”

Koelzer hopes to continue moving forward throughout the USA Hockey program. She enjoyed a strong showing at the camp, which was good enough to land a spot on the U.S. Women’s U-22 Select Team, which met Canada during the Under-22 Series.

“Going into it, I was a little nervous, but the people in the USA Hockey program are really amazing,” Koelzer said. “It really helped me gain my confidence and keep me comfortable. There’s always a sense of team and wanting the best for every single person there. It was so easy to come together as a team and work for one goal, which was beating Canada.

“Just getting the opportunity to wear the USA jersey and play on that stage was special.”

Another special accolade for Koelzer came in June when she was the top pick, selected No. 1 overall by the New York Riveters in the 2016 National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) Draft. She learned of the honor on her 21st birthday.

“I’ve been playing hockey since I was 4 years old and I still have the same love for the game than I did when I first started,” Koelzer said. “It was a very special moment … a very surreal and proud moment to see that my hard work over the past 17 years paid off in the ultimate way, really in getting my opportunity to continue my hockey career.”

Before that, Koelzer has a senior year at Princeton to worry about.

“Right now, the only thing on my mind is my Princeton hockey season and me personally just playing the best I can, and as a team, figuring out the best way to get the job done every weekend,” Koelzer said.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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