Vol. LXII, No. 52
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
GOAL ACHIEVEMENT: Princeton High senior forward and captain Jeff Goeke heads up the ice in recent action. Last Thursday, Goeke scored three goals to lead PHS to a 5-2 win over Hamilton as the Little Tigers won their third straight game to reach the .500 mark after a 0-3 start.
After enduring a 4-17 season last winter, the Princeton High boys hockey team was shooting to reach the .500 benchmark when it faced Hamilton last Thursday at Mercer County Park.
Riding a two-game winning streak that lifted its record to 2-3, PHS had every reason to come out firing against the less than imposing Hornets.
But the Little Tigers sleepwalked through the early stages of the contest, falling behind 1-0.
Even though a Peter Twining goal knotted things at 1-1 heading into the second period, the PHS players got a tongue-lashing from head coach Tim Campbell during the first intermission.
He was a little bit upset; he knew we were playing sluggish, recalled PHS senior forward Jeff Goeke. He knew we could play better; he got us going.
After PHS fell behind 2-1 midway through the second period, Goeke got the Little Tigers going.
The team captain found the back of the net with 1:17 left in the period to knot the game at 2-2. Then just 29 seconds later, the fleet Goeke swooped in and banged home another goal to give PHS its first lead of the contest.
Classmate and assistant captain Billy Ward added to the outburst, scoring with 10.8 seconds left in the period to give PHS three goals in 67 seconds and a 4-2 lead going into the third period.
In the third period, Goeke added another score to give him a hat trick and put the finishing touch on a 5-2 PHS victory.
In reflecting on his second period explosion, Goeke admitted that he was fueled by some anger himself.
I got a penalty I disagreed with so I was pretty upset, recalled Goeke. I guess it just fired me up and fired the team up.
Goeke said the team was fired up to even its record at 3-3. It is huge that we are back to 500, said Goeke.
We havent been at 500 in a while; we werent there all last season. It is kind of big for us.
In Goekes view, the Little Tigers got a big lift from their 8-4 win over Steinert on December 10 which got the team in the win column after a 0-3 start.
Since I was a freshman, I dont think we have beaten Steinert, said Goeke. They have always been a good team. Steinert beat us by nine or something like that. It was a huge momentum booster.
In the view of PHS head coach Campbell, Goeke consistently gives the squad a big boost.
He was the first one to say when we got in the locker room between the second and third periods that we need to step up together and stop relying on one or two guys, said Campbell.
He gets the team going, both verbally and by example. The kid skates like the wind. Leading by example is definitely his forte but he gets them going in the locker room.
Campbell went out of his way to get his team going during his pep talk after the first period.
I was just telling them, you guys have to stay consistent, recalled Campbell, who was waving his fists during his animated monologue.
You have to play to the top of your game every single game that you play. We could walk out of here 500 for the first time in two years or we could go down 2-4. Its a big difference.
That message didnt have an immediate impact as PHS found itself trailing 2-1 for much of the second period.
I did feel it slipping away, the fourth goal was huge. Then bang, bang, bang, three goals; that was a big momentum builder for us. We played better in the third period; the intensity was there. We are not the kind of team that can afford to have a lapse like that for 29 and a half minutes.
While Campbell is looking for more consistency from his players, he likes the direction they are heading. A year ago we had one win or something at the break, said Campbell, whose team moved to 3-3-1 with a 6-6 tie with Lawrence last Monday and is next in action when it plays Hightstown on January 5 at Mercer County Park. Little by little, we are making progress.
Goeke, for his part, believes PHS can keep making progress. We just need to continue to play crisp, said Goeke. We cant have any sloppiness; we have to keep up the intensity.
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