Times of Trenton Boys / Girls Ice Hockey Notebook: PDS Boys Take on New Challenges
It’s a daring new world for the Princeton Day School ice hockey team this year, and the Panthers seem to be at home so far.
Playing his first season as a member of the all-powerful Gordon Conference and an NJSIAA affiliate program, PDS is ranked No.5 in nj.comstate ranking and is 4-2-1 in Wednesday’s rescheduled showdown at Bergen Catholic.
The Panthers are coming off a 4-1 victory over No. 18 Pope John, knocking out the Top 20 Lions and avenging a 3-2 loss on Matchday 1. Coach Scott Bertoli reckoned his side got off to a much better start in the January 3 rematch.
“At the end of November we were flat and found ourselves playing from behind early in the second period (following 3-1),” said Bertoli. “Although we led the game for a good part of the second half of the game, we couldn’t break through and equalize.
“Last Monday we scored early and continued to extend our lead and generate quality chances. Another big factor was that we were at full power for the first time all winter so we were all excited about the prospects to challenge us against the best teams of the Gordon and the MAHL (Mid Atlantic Hockey League) with a healthy formation.
The Panthers’ only other loss was to the No.1-ranked CBA (8-0-3), who currently sit second in the US Division of the Gordon Conference. PDS sits atop the national division and Bertoli feels good playing in the state’s most competitive conference; as well as being able to participate in the NJSIAA tournament for the first time.
“There are a lot of perks and things to get excited about as NJSIAA and Gordon members this year,” he said. “But for me the best part of it all is that every game we play is a meaningful league game. Between Gordon’s 14 or 15 games and the MAHL’s 6 games, they all count for something and our children are motivated to face all these quality teams night after night.
Unfortunately, due to several postponements of Gordon’s matches induced by COVID 19, PDS may not be able to participate in the MAHL tournament this year.
“Covid is everyone’s reality this winter,” Bertoli said. “We’ll continue to take it one day at a time and prepare to compete until someone tells us we can’t.”
The veteran coach said he was satisfied with both the performance and the results this year. He believes that like most teams at the start of the season, the Panthers have yet to play a full game but survive as they continue to improve.
“We still managed to win a few close games against some really good teams, like Hun, Gloucester Catholic and Pope John,” he said. “We were very good and opportunistic in the transition. I guess 75 percent of our goals have been scored in the race this year.
And while that has worked for the most part, the Panthers need to build their offense more consistently going forward.
“We are constantly talking about extending the time in the attacking zone and generating more attacking chances in the zone against most of the teams in our schedule going forward,” said Bertoli. “We are unlikely to be successful in living off the rush as we have been so far.”
Senior Adam Teryek leads the team with six goals and five assists for 11 points, while junior Ryan Vandal has four goals and five assists and second Riley Schmidt has three and four.
“They’ve really increased their offensive production this year,” said Bertoli. “These are guys we were counting on to play bigger roles this year and they didn’t disappoint. With Liam Jackson, Oliver Hall and now Roshean Nissangaratchie, they all play in all situations and we will be relying on them a lot as we get into the heart of our program.
Hall has three goals and three assists, and Jackson has three and four. Nissangaratchie collected his first point with an assist against Pope John. Goalie Timmy Miller has a .915 save percentage with 161 saves on 176 shots.
BACK TO ACTION (HOPELY): After losing three games due to COVID 19 issues, Lawrenceville (4-4-1) is hoping to return to the ice at Trinity Pawling on Friday and Northfield Mount Hermon on Sunday.
The Big Red’s last action was on December 19, when they beat Elite Hockey Academy 3-2 to finish 2-2 and take fifth place in the Lawrenceville hockey tournament. Northfield Mount Hermon was third in the same event.
Hun is also looking to sort out some issues Wednesday with a game scheduled at Wyoming Seminary. The Raiders (5-5) have been absent since December 15.
And finally, Pennington (1-2-1) dons the angry skates for the first time since Dec. 16 when he hosts Germantown Academy on Tuesday and Springside-Chestnut Hill Academy on Friday.
These days, however, no game is certain until it is played.
GIRLS CONVERSATION: Like its men’s counterpart, the Lawrenceville women’s team have seen a series of games postponed due to COVID-19 and are looking to return Saturday and Sunday to Kent School and Northfield Mount Hermion.
The Big Reds have made one-goal games their specialty, as five of their first six games were decided by the smallest of margins in a 3-3 start. Lawrenceville lost twice by 2-1 and once by 1-0, while winning 1-0, 2-1 and 4-0.
Princeton Day School holds a 2-1 record in the second half of the season when it hosts the summit on Tuesday. Junior Claire Meehan leads the Panthers with three goals and an assist, while Emily McCann has two goals and an assist and Eibhleann Knox has one goal and two assists.
A rivalry between the cities takes place on Friday when PDS meets Princeton at Ice Land in Hamilton.
STROKE: All of last Friday’s games at the Mercer County Skating Center and Grundy Arena in Bristol, Pa. Have been postponed. There was an ice problem at Mercer, but it’s unclear why two Grundy games (with Robbinsville-Allentown and Notre Dame) were called off.
Princeton’s only game of the week was a 10-0 win over Lawrence, as the Little Tigers (9-1-1) continue to sit atop the Colonial Valley Conference’s Colonial Division.
Robbinsville-Allentown rebounded from a 5-4 loss to Princeton last Monday to win a close game two days later with a 4-3 victory over Paul VI. JP Sferra scored two goals and one assist while Charlie Pallitto scored one goal and two assists. It was then Notre-Dame’s turn to bounce back as the Irish won a 3-0 victory over the Ravens on Monday after losing to St. Rose last Wednesday. Drew Werthman scored two goals and Colin Frith added one for the Irish.
Nottingham-Hamilton-Steinert notched their third victory Monday, 5-0, against West Windsor-Plainsboro. Ashton Truelove had one goal and two assists, while Zach Meseroll, Colin St. John, Colin Phillips and Austin Kolczynski each scored one. Troy Callahan made 27 saves for the shutout.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Notre Dame goalkeeper Cole Werthman was good at winning and almost as good at losing.
Werthman kept the Irish in the game against St. Rose, making 32 saves in a 2-0 loss to the Purple Roses. Last Monday, the runner-up repelled 28 shots to help the Irish secure a 3-0 win over Robbinsville-Allentown.
It was only Werthman’s second and third games in the net this year. He also made 20 saves in a 6-1 win over Lawrence, while coming out of the net to score a hat trick against Hamilton-Nottingham-Steinert.
GAMES TO WATCH:
January 12: Princeton Day School in Bergen Catholic
January 14: Princeton Day School against the Princeton Girls in Ice Land,
January 18: Notre Dame vs. St. John Vianney at the Jersey Shore Arena
Princeton Day School
The NJ High School Sports newsletter now appears in mailboxes 5 days a week. Sign up now and be the first to get all the boys and girls sports you care about, straight to your inbox every day of the week. To add your name, Click here.
Thank you for relying on us to provide journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting NJ.com with a subscription.