Leuck's Quiet Leadership Style Steadying PHS Boys' Hockey
by Bill Alden
Matt Leuck is not one to attract attention but he hasn't shied away from taking a leading role this season with the Princeton High boys' ice hockey team.
As a senior captain and the team's leading returning scorer, the quiet Leuck knew that he would carry a major part of the team's offensive load.
Adding to his responsibility, he was moved to center from wing on the team's top line and joined by freshman wingers Peter Teifer and John Ryan.
With PHS off to a strong 4-2-1 start, Leuck has enjoyed being the squad's go-to guy and wise old head. "I like showing John and Peter the ropes, they've done a really great job," said Leuck after scoring two goals in the Little Tigers' 9-1 romp over Lawrence last Wednesday at Mercer County Park.
"They've done a great job. It's been a lot of fun with the younger guys. We work really well together, the three of us. I played wing last year with Jason Diamond and I'm centering this year. I'm still getting used to it."
Leuck has utilized a strong work ethic to help smooth his transition to the new position. "I'm not a big guy but I go out on every shift and take the body," said Leuck, whose younger brother, Shane, has starred at goalie for PHS in his freshman campaign. "I try to move the puck well and back check. It's gone pretty well."
PHS head coach Paul Merrow is happy with Leuck's productivity in his new spot. "Matt has been making a huge contribution for us," said Merrow.
"He's our captain but he's a silent leader. He's not vocal, he does it on the ice. He works hard every practice, and he leads by example. We have other people in the room who are more vocal"
The Little Tigers got particularly vocal in the Lawrence game after PHS defender Brad Carduner suffered a broken arm on a questionable check.
"I think they came out pumped up after that," said Merrow, whose club was leading just 3-1 at the time Carduner was injured late in the second period.
"During that long break, I told them Lawrence was bunching in front of the net so that we needed to get the puck out to the point to draw them out and then throw it back into the corner. We got control of the game."
In addition to Leuck's two goals, Merrow got two goals each from Peter Teifer, and John Ryan and Sam Finnell, and one from Brian Fischer.
For Leuck, the win over Lawrence was just another example of the strides they have made early this season. "We knew we had the talent coming into the season," explained Leuck, who will look to keep up his hot play when PHS plays Hamilton on January 5 at Mercer County Park. "We just didn't know how long it would take to jell. We're doing a good job so far."
With a quiet but effective leader like Leuck, it's not hard to understand why the team has meshed together so quickly.