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Vol. LXV, No. 49
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

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(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OPENING STATEMENT: Princeton High boys’ hockey senior forward Kirby Peck sends the puck up the ice last Thursday in PHS’s 4-1 win over WW/P-S in the season opener for both teams. Co-captain Peck chipped in a goal and an assist in the victory.

With Senior Star Peck Triggering Offense, PHS Boys’ Hockey Tops WW/P-S in Opener

Bill Alden

Kirby Peck felt a little extra weight on his shoulders last Thursday as the Princeton High boys’ hockey team opened the season.

The senior co-captain knew that his teammates were looking for him to pick up some of scoring slack in the wake of the graduation of the prolific Fraser Graham.

“I had been the No. 2 center under Fraser for the last two years and I learned a lot from him,” said Peck. “I knew that when he left, I had to step in and put some of those points up.”

In the first two periods of the opener against WW/P-S at the Mercer County Park (MCP) rink, Peck generated plenty of opportunities but was unable to find the back of the net.

“I was starting to get a little frustrated,” said Peck. “I had a bunch of shots in the first two periods and I thought I should have put one or two of them away.”

In the third period, Peck cashed in one of his chances, scoring one of three unanswered goals for PHS as it put away the Pirates in posting a 4-1 victory.

In Peck’s view, it was just a matter of time before the Little Tigers broke through in the third period.

“The message after the second period was to keep putting the puck on the net and the goals were going to come,” recalled Peck, who also picked up an assist in the victory.

“In the first five minutes, we were just down there, cycle, shot, cycle, shot so I just felt like it was coming.”

After PHS took a 2-1 lead on freshman Connor McCormick’s first goal, Peck finally broke through with a top shelf blast.

“I saw my opening on the 2-on-1 with Will [Greenberg],” said Peck. “I looked up at him but I had the shot so I took it and buried it.”

Peck and fellow senior captain Greenberg have developed a strong connection on the ice.

“Will and I work the give-and-go the whole game,” said Peck. “We know each other so well; we have been playing together in club and now for four years in high school. We know where we are going to be on the ice and that has helped us a lot.”

In Peck’s view, it helped the Little Tigers to open the season with a tight contest.

“I don’t think it is a bad thing that we went through most of the game tied,” said Peck.

“You get situational playing and you know what you have to do and I think that helped us a lot.”

PHS head coach Tim Campbell believes that Peck will be helping PHS a lot over the course of the winter.

“Kirby is the emotional leader of this team; he leads by example,” asserted Campbell.

“It was nice to see him put one in the net tonight. I know he was frustrated with a couple of those penalties. He’ll learn from his mistakes and lead from here on out.”

Campbell was a bit frustrated himself as the Little Tigers experienced some opening night glitches.

“We weren’t doing a lot of things we were supposed to be doing and we were definitely doing things we weren’t supposed to be doing,” said Campbell.

“We had seven penalties which is exactly the opposite of what our rule is.”

Forward Mike Wasson and defenseman Pat McCormick did what they were supposed to in the win over the Pirates.

“Mike Wasson and Pat McCormick are sophomores and they hold this team together offensively and defensively,” asserted Campbell.

“Mike has some of the best hands I have seen in a long time. Pat got a lot of ice time tonight and that will be a constant all year long. He is going to anchor our defense for the next three years without a doubt.”

The Little Tigers’ last line of defense, senior goalie Josh Berger, showed why he is one of the best netminders in the area, making 15 saves and coming up big in the third period when PHS faced a 5-on-3 situation for more than a minute.

“Josh did what he had to do tonight which is going to be a necessity all year long,” added Campbell.

“He did look sharp but he wasn’t tested a whole lot which says a lot about our defense. The 5-on-3 was a game changer right there; holding off a 5-on-3 any time is big.”

In Campbell’s view, coming up big on opening day could be a harbinger of good things to come.

“We haven’t opened with a victory in six years and the last two years, WW/P-S beat us on opening night,” said Campbell, whose team plays Notre Dame on December 8 and Hightstown on December 9 with both games slated to be take place at the MCP rink.

“It is good for these underclassmen to see what we are really capable of and also just to keep the momentum going from last year with the 7 or 8 game winning streak we had before the end of the states.”

Peck was certainly happy to finally start a season with a victory. “This is the first time I have ever won my opening game as a high school player,” said a grinning Peck.

“It is really big because you build that confidence early and hopefully you can start getting that momentum going and roll to some big wins.”

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