Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 50
 
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
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STRONG FINISH: Princeton High boys’ hockey star Fraser Graham controls the puck in recent action. Last Thursday, junior co-captain Graham scored two third period goals to help spark PHS to a 5-2 win over Lawrence High. The Little Tigers, now 2-2, play Hopewell Valley on December 17 at Mercer County Park.

With Junior Star Graham Leading by Example, PHS Boys’ Hockey Pulls Away From Lawrence

Bill Alden

For the Princeton High boys’ ice hockey team, one of the most disappointing moments last season came when it blew a late lead against Lawrence High and ended up settling for a 6-6 tie.

Adding insult to injury, that stalemate helped keep the Little Tigers from reaching the .500 record needed to qualify for the state tournament.

When the teams renewed their rivalry last Thursday at Mercer County Park, it looked like history might be repeating itself.

PHS took an early 2-0 lead with two first period goals by senior Ismael Hammoudi only to see the Cardinals knot the game 2-2 by early in the third period.

With the game hanging in the balance, Little Tiger junior captain Fraser Graham used last year’s tie as inspiration.

“Last year we had a four goal lead on them and it all came apart,” recalled Graham.

“I don’t think that we wanted that to happen again; it gave us a little more energy in the third period.”

Midway through the period, the Little Tigers got a 5-on-3 power play and Graham cashed in as he took the puck around the back of the net into the crease area and then fired it home.

“I was behind the net and I looked to the corner to pass to Will [Greenberg] but the defense slid over to him so that gave me a clear shot to just walk out in front and stick it in.”

After Greenberg added another power play goal, Graham tallied the final goal in the 5-2 PHS victory with a diving shot.

“I got a pass in the slot and I wasn’t really sure who was in front of me so I just wanted to get it to my forehand and take a shot,” said Graham, breaking down his second goal.

“I got lucky and it got past the defense. I had a lot of shots that didn’t go in so I guess it worked out.”

As a junior captain, Graham is looking to show leadership in all situations.

“The biggest thing is making sure that everything I do is setting a good example,” said Graham.

PHS head coach Tim Campbell likes the example Graham has been setting.

“He has been huge this season for us; he’s a veteran at the beginning of his junior year,” said Campbell, whose team improved to 2-2 with the win over Lawrence.

“He inspires other guys with his determination. He scored that last goal basically parallel to the ice. He has soft hands and he is just an all-around good player.”

The Little Tigers have been getting a good all-around effort from Hammoudi.

“That kid is all heart; he has earned everything,” said Campbell of Hammoudi.

“Anything he lacks, he makes up for in determination and size. We use him a lot now on the power play; in front of the net banging home rebounds and setting screens.

Sophomore Greenberg has shown heart from the minute he joined the Little Tigers.

“Since Will has been a freshman, he has been very important to us,” asserted Campbell.

“He adapts well, whether I ask him to play center or forward with different lines.”

Campbell, though, acknowledged that he is looking for his team to play well for three straight periods.

“We had a good start and a good finish but in these CVC games, we can’t have letdowns like that,” said Campbell, whose team plays Hopewell Valley on December 17 at Mercer County Park.

“We just have these mental lapses, we need to get that figured out, whether it is the beginning, middle, or the end. We have still not put together 45 minutes of hockey.”

Still, Campbell was heartened to see his team bounce back from a discouraging 7-2 loss to Robbinsville three days earlier.

“That was a huge disappointment,” said Campbell of the defeat to the Ravens. “I allow this team to be disappointed for the night and then it’s back to work the next day and that’s exactly what we did. We worked on a couple of things in practice where I saw some holes in our game.”

In Graham’s view, the loss to Robbinsville was a wake-up call that could pay dividends down the road.

“Once we lost that game, we realized we had a lot of work ahead of us,” said Graham.

“We knew that we had to come out with a win today or otherwise we were looking at a long season. We are playing the other teams we have already lost to in our division so we have to build off of this.”

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