Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 48
 
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
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DEFENSE FORCE: Princeton High boys’ ice hockey star defenseman Dean DiTosto controls the puck in a game last winter. Senior co-captain and four-year starter DiTosto will be a pivotal figure this winter for the Little Tigers, who ended 2009-10 on a high note as they went on an improbable run to the Mercer County Tournament championship game. PHS starts the upcoming season by playing WW/P-S on December 2 at Mercer County Park.

Buoyed by Last Year’s Run to MCT Title Game, PHS Boys’ Hockey Brimming With Confidence

Bill Alden

For the Princeton High boys’ ice hockey team, its improbable run to the Mercer County Tournament championship game last winter was an eye-opener on several levels.

First, ninth-seeded PHS surprised No. 8 Notre Dame, top-seeded Hopewell Valley, and No. 5 WW/P-S on the way to the county title game.

More importantly, the Little Tigers proved something to themselves about their ability.

“The run in the county gave them a sense of realism,” said head coach Tim Campbell, whose team ended the 2010-11 season with a 9-10-3 record after falling to No. 3 Princeton Day School 3-0 in the MCT final.

“It wasn’t just that we went to the finals, it was how we went. It was an exclamation on the message I had been trying to give them all season; that we are not only good, we can beat the best of best. We have a lot of talent in the room but we had been getting used to getting beaten as we have gone through a rebuilding year. We finally skated hard until the final whistle.”

As PHS gets its 2010-11 season underway by playing WW/P-S on December 2 at Mercer County Park, the Little Tigers will be getting some hard play on defense from senior co-captain and four-year starter Dean DiTosto.

“Dean is Dean, he is a rock,” said Campbell. “He has been back there for three years and he will be back there again for us.”

In Campbell’s view, his defensive unit could emerge as a rock for the Little Tigers.

“Griffin Peck is another senior leader back there,” said Campbell. “David Wright and Coleman Preziosi have made tremendous strides. Spencer Reynolds and Harrison Naylor are good. We have six solid defensemen and freshman Patrick McCormick can go back there and help us.”

The Little Tigers will get plenty of help on the offensive end from senior co-captain and leading returning scorer Fraser Graham.

“He looks like he has been on the ice all summer,” said Campbell, noting that state champion golfer Graham doesn’t play travel hockey any more in the off season.

“It will take him a while to get his legs. He has the hand-eye coordination and game sense, that doesn’t go away.”

Graham and classmate Peter Twining have developed a coordination on the ice. “They have been linemates for four years and they can finish each other’s sentences,” said Campbell.

“I put freshman Mike Wasson with them, he can flat out skate. I can’t wait to see him when he is a senior. It will help him to be with the seniors this year.”

Campbell believes he will have another high-powered line with the combination of juniors Will Greenberg and Kirby Peck together with sophomore Matt DiTosto.

“They skate so well together,” said Campbell, who will also be using freshmen McCormick and Tim Podgalsky as well as sophomore Gabe MacGregor at forward. “We don’t look at it as having a first or second line; we color code them. It is great to have that.”

Campbell is expecting great things from junior goalie Josh Berger. “Josh is really primed for a big year,” said Campbell.

“Obviously he has great skills but he has also stepped into the leadership category. He is in great shape; he is the full package. He is a student of the position.”

Berger has demonstrated his leadership by passing on knowledge to senior back-up Owen Diver.

“Josh has taken Owen under his wing,” said Campbell. “Owen is not a lifelong hockey player but he is a good athlete. He will help us; he has good hand-eye coordination and he can get up and down quickly.”

In Campbell’s view, it should be an up year for the Little Tigers as they look to make the state tournament for the first time since 2007 and duplicate their strong county tourney run.

“The potential is endless,” asserted Campbell. “This is the first time we have had a full roster and every single player I dress will see ice time. They need to be consistent and play hard for 45 minutes. I have been looking forward to this season since the last whistle of the final game last year.”

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