Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 7
 
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
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FAMILY FUN: Princeton High girls’ hockey senior star defenseman Blair Thompson heads up the ice in recent action. Thompson and younger sister, sophomore forward Haley, have provided a potent one-two combination for the Little Tigers. PHS, now 10-9-1, competes this weekend in the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) tournament. The fourth-seeded Little Tigers face top-seeded Portledge in the semifinals on February 16 with the winner advancing to the title game on February 17.

Sophomore Star Thompson Provides Inspiration as PHS Girls’ Hockey Chases WIHLMA Crown

Bill Alden

When the Princeton High girls’ hockey team faced Princeton Day School in mid-January, PHS star Haley Thompson couldn’t play due to a dislocated shoulder.

Taking advantage of the absence of Thompson and some other key Little Tiger players, PDS skated to a 3-0 victory that night.

Last Wednesday, Thompson was on the ice as the teams met for a rematch and she put PDS out of joint as she scored all three goals in a 3-2 win for the Little Tigers.

In the early going, though, it didn’t look like Thompson’s presence was going to make a difference as PDS grabbed an early 1-0 lead. But the upbeat Thompson wasn’t fazed by the early deficit.

“I was a little bit disappointed but I knew we had a lot of time left,” said Thompson.

“It wasn’t like our team couldn’t pull together; we are used to being the underdog.”

Things started to come together for PHS when Thompson converted a sweet feed from her older sister, senior star Blair, and found the back of the net with 9 seconds left in the first period.

“We’re sisters; we know where each other is on the ice,” said Thompson, who plays with her sister on the N.J. Rockets club team.

“I love it when it is me and her together, it’s always fun. I started playing with her when I was seven. We have played a lot together. I have always played forward and she has always played defense.”

Thompson notched her second goal on a power play late in the second period.

“I kept taking the puck down and getting crappy shots; it was really frustrating,” said Thompson, who has a team-high 16 points on 11 goals and five assists.

“We figured out that Bryanna [PDS goalie Bryanna Mayes] goes down a lot on the puck and once we got it up we started working well together.”

Feeling that a 2-1 lead may not hold up, Thompson was determined to get PHS on the board again and she succeeded by scoring with 9:39 left in the third period.

“With a one goal lead it was kind of risky; it was important to get a little more cushion,” said Thompson.

“In situations like that, anything can happen just like in the Super Bowl when the Giants came back in the last few seconds.”

Like the Giants did earlier in their season, PHS has dealt with some uneven play.

“One of the hardest things is the consistency of having our players here,” said Thompson. “Our club players play on other teams so it’s hard for us to get in synch.”

In the win over PDS, sophomore goalie Rachel Bozich stepped up as she played in the absence of star goalie Chelsea Corell.

Playing in her first WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) contest, Bozich made saves in earning the win, showing her mettle by holding the fort when PDS went on a power play in the last minute.

Bozich acknowledged she had some anxious moments as she held off the Panthers. “I was really nervous before the game and Jeff [PHS head coach Jeff Schneider] told me to focus,” recalled Bozich.

“I was just telling myself what to do; if I am focusing on catching the puck then I’ll catch the puck. It’s a great feeling to win. PDS is a huge rival with Princeton High so it’s amazing.”

PHS head coach Jeff Schneider wasn’t concerned when his team fell behind with neophyte Bozich feeling her way in the net.

“This is a team that has heart and character and they will play to the very end,” said Schneider, noting that the team recently earned a 1-1 tie with Holton Arms (Md.) on a goal by Gabby Vukasin with 17 seconds left in the contest. “I’m not going to get nervous being down by one. This team has shown it doesn’t give up.”

The play of Thompson has helped PHS develop its never-say-die mentality.

“Haley is inspirational just because she is so dynamic out there,” asserted Schneider, whose team improved to 10-9-1 with a 3-2 win over Summit last Sunday.

“She is always on the go and the players really feed off of that. It’s always positive. She never gets down and she doesn’t let the team get down.”

While PHS has had an up-and-down season, Schneider thinks the team is on an upswing.

“We’ve been playing a lot of games,” said Schneider, whose team is seeded fourth in this weekend’s WIHLMA tournament and will face top-seeded Portledge in the semifinals on February 16.

“It’s a winter sport so you start, then you have Thanksgiving, then you go and then you have another break. In the last four weeks we’ve been playing two or three games a week so you get into a flow. You lose a game and you get back out there. You win a game and you get back out there.”

Schneider likes the way his players watch each other’s backs. “They are dedicated to hockey and dedicated to each other,” said Schneider. “They support each other and they are there for each other.”

In deepening their bonds and commitment to the game, the Little Tigers have turned to an unlikely source for inspiration according to Thompson.

“We have this new mantra; we sing the ‘I’ll make a man out of you’ song from the Mulan movie before every game,” said Thompson.

“It gets us fired up; we are really getting our rhythm together. Before we would come out flat and it wasn’t as much fun. Now we get on the ice and it’s let’s go. We are louder; we’re just more focused and in the flow.”

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