Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 33
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
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BY THE BOOK: Princeton High boys’ hockey goalie Josh Berger, right, listens as Craig Fiander makes a point last month at the Textbook Goaltending Summer School at Ice Land Skating Center in Hamilton. Berger, a longtime Textbook Goaltending student, credits the program with helping him become a star for PHS. Fiander, a former Princeton University goalie, held his 12th Annual Summer School this past July and will be running his 2010 Elite Camp from August 27-29.

Learning Lessons Through Textbook Goaltending, PHS’s Berger Has Taken Game to a Higher Level

Bill Alden

Josh Berger was pretty much clueless when he initially came to the Textbook Goaltending program as a 10-year-old.

“When I first got here, I wasn’t even comfortable in the ” recalled Berger, now a rising junior at Princeton High. “I was starting out; I had no training beforehand. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play the position.

It didn’t take long for Berger to develop a comfort level with the demanding position.

“As soon as I got here, I just felt comfortable,” said Berger. “They had great instructors and they really just guided me along the way. They gave me great structure and a good base for me to just keep on getting better and that’s what I did.”

Berger’s work with Textbook helped him make an immediate impact for the PHS’s hockey team as he was the starting goalie from day one of his freshman season in 2008-09.

Last winter, Berger continued his progress, being named as a New Jersey Devils High School Player of the Month for February when he helped the Little Tigers advance to the Mercer County Tournament championship game.

In becoming a standout for PHS, Berger has been deeply influenced by Textbook instructor and recently-graduated Princeton University star Zane Kalemba.

“For the last four years, Zane has been an icon to all these goalies in Textbook,” asserted Berger. “He comes in, not as a big Princeton University goalie, but as a helpful instructor. He really levels with you face-to-face. He has really been a big part of my development. It’s great to get him as a role model. I followed his progress with Princeton; I went to all of his games at Baker Rink.”

The red-headed Berger, known affectionately as “juicy burger” by teammates and friends, hopes to help PHS make more progress in the upcoming season.

“That was a big step forward for me coming into next season; it was definitely a highlight,” said Berger, referring to the team’s MCT run this past Februa“I would say PHS is going to have a big year this year. The states is our goal; we are going to achieve it. We are going to work really hard.”

Craig Fiander, who runs the Textbook Goaltending program, likes the way Berger has worked himself into a star.

“Josh Berger is a local guy who has become a student of the position,” said Fiander, a former Princeton University goalie who held his 12th Annual Textbook Goaltending Summer School this past July at the Ice Land Skating Center and will be running his 2010 Elite Camp from August 27-29.

“He is cerebral. Josh has been developing over the years to the point where he reached a pinnacle last winter with the Princeton High team’s success at the county tournament. It is just so rewarding to see local goaltending students having some success. At the end of the day, it makes you feel proud.”

For Fiander, Berger is just one of the success stories arising out of the Textbook program.

“The coaching staff and the next generation of Textbook goaltenders is something I am really proud of,” said Fiander, who works full-time as VP for ALK Technologies when he isn’t indulging in his passion for goaltending.“ There are the kids who have been students who are now coaching.”

Rider standout Joe Nalbone is one of those students turned teachers. “Joe Nalbone is a Mercerville kid and now he is at Rider University,” said Fiander.

“He came to me when he was 11. He has been doing the drills and now he is teaching the drills. He is going to be finishing up at Rider, playing on their club team. He was the national club Player of the Year for them.

Another longtime Textbook student and instructor, John Zdunkiewicz, will be working as the goalie coach for the Princeton University women’s hockey team this winter.

“There is the evolution of a student into an instructor to a Princeton goalie coach,” said Fiander, referring to Zdunkiewicz.

“He is is qualified, experienced, and will do a phenomenal job helping the Princeton women’s program. He played at Niagara University for a year and he played locally at Rider as well. He came up through various youth hockey programs in the Princeton area including Princeton Youth Hockey Association. More recently, John has been a back-up goalie for the ’s Trenton Devils when they have needed him.”

As Berger makes his way up the hockey ladder, he has his eye on trying some other programs.

“I am coming up on my junior year; it is time to focus on taking the next step into more competitive hockey past the Colonial Valley Conference and local prep teams,” said Berger, who will be back at the Textbook Elite Camp next week after a session with the Pro Ambitions Hockey Camp.

“I strive to play some more competitive hockey. I could go to New England for a PG year or maybe play some juniors; wherever I can get some exposure.”

And wherever Berger goes, he will apply the Textbook approach that has served him so well.

“Not only do I see it as a sport, it is a lifestyle,” said Berger. “That’s the way Textbook makes it. You study; we have classroom work and video analysis, the works. I would say my confidence has just improved. I am just all around a more solid goalie, mentally and physically.”

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