The following article was posted on www.towntopics.com on Wednesday, August 15 featuring former Princeton standout Eric Robinson.
By Bill Alden
Eric Robinson didn’t have much time to dwell on the disappointment of seeing his career with the Princeton University men’s hockey team end with a 4-2 loss to Ohio State in the NCAA tournament.
Two days after the defeat on March 24 in the first round of the national tourney, star forward Robinson followed the Buckeyes to Ohio as he signed a contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL and joined the pro team on Monday.
“It was a whirlwind for sure; it was mostly my agent doing the work,” said Robinson, a 6’2, 200-pound native of Bellmawr, N.J.
“My agent texted me that night after the Ohio State game, congratulating me for the year, telling me to spend time with my teammates and that we will talk tomorrow.We talked about different options and basically by Sunday night we had some different offers and we were analyzing them and on Monday, we made the decision to go with Columbus. Two hours later, I was on a flight out to Columbus. It all took 48 hours.”
Upon arriving in Columbus, Robinson trained with the team for two weeks and then made his NHL debut, starting in the regular season finale as the Blue Jackets fell 4-2 to Nashville on April 7.
Taking the ice that night, Robinson got to soak in the scene. “For warmups in your first game, they usually let you take a lap or two by yourself,” said Robinson. “It was pretty cool to be a part of that and take a lap around and take things in for a second.”
Once the game started, Robinson tried to take his mind off the jitters he was experiencing.
“I was definitely nervous, I was trying to remember things people told me, like it is still hockey, you are there for a reason, you are not out of place so just play your game,” said Robinson. “In a couple of shifts, it will just become more natural. I was trying to tell myself those things to stay calm and make sure that I didn’t get too jittery.”
Robinson got to start the contest and ended up playing 11:21, taking two shots.
“It is a much faster game, it is a lot cleaner,” said Robinson, reflecting in his debut. “Everyone is in the spot that they are supposed to be all the time, every pass is on the tape and hard. You don’t have any time at all when you get the puck; there is always going to be a guy right there on you. You have to make decisions quicker. Everything just happens so much faster.”
In Robinson’s view, getting to spend two weeks with the team and having a taste of NHL action will pay dividends as he looks ahead to the 2018-19 campaign.
“It definitely helps me a ton heading into the summer and training camp already having a game,” said Robinson. “It is not a ton of experience but enough to know what the game is like. You know what it takes.”
Robinson enjoyed a great experience at Princeton, helping the Tigers go from a combined 9-46-6 record in his first two seasons with the program to the ECACH championship and a 19-13-4 mark this winter.
Helping the Tigers top No. 2 Cornell 4-1 in the ECACH semis and then edge No. 10 Clarkson 2-1 in overtime in the title game will stand as two of the major highlights of Robinson’s time at Princeton.
“We played a couple of really good teams in Cornell and Clarkson; there were a couple of emotional roller-coasters,” said Robinson.
“Being able to come out with a conference championship in my senior year is incredible, especially where we came from my freshman year.”
In reflecting on the program’s progress, Robinson credits the efforts of Tiger head coach Ron Fogarty and his assistants.
“It is obvious to see with the work that our coaching staff put in since they got there,” said Robinson.
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