Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 4
 
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
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GOING FOR IT: Princeton High boys’ hockey junior forward Jeff Goeke controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, Goeke scored four goals and had two assists as PHS dismantled Hightstown 14-0 to improve to 4-10 on the season. In upcoming action, the 13th-seeded Little Tigers will face No. 4 Hopewell Valley on January 25 at Mercer County Park in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament.

With Goeke Thriving in Leading Role PHS Boys’ Hockey on the Right Track

Bill Alden

In his first two seasons with the Princeton High boys’ hockey team, Jeff Goeke played a supporting role.

The gritty forward worked hard to break into a lineup stocked with veteran stars who led PHS to plenty of wins and a Mercer County Tournament title.

With the core of that stellar group having graduated last spring, Goeke has stepped into a leading role this winter.

Playing on the team’s first line along with senior Jon Naylor and freshman Fraser Graham, Goeke has emerged as a major scoring threat with 38 points, just behind team leader Naylor (42).

But while Goeke is getting all kinds of ice time, PHS has struggled to pick up wins, getting off to a 3-10 start and being on the short end of several routs.

Last Friday, though, Goeke and his teammates got to be on the right side of a rout as they jumped out to a 9-0 first period lead over Hightstown on the way to a 14-0 victory.

“It was good to put a few in,” said Goeke, who scored four goals and had two assists in the win.

“The same thing has happened to us throughout the season; we’ve played some tough teams. We wanted to get all of our guys in so it was good to score in the beginning.”

While PHS looked at the Hightstown game as a good opportunity for a win, Goeke had no idea that the Little Tigers would dominate the Rams.

“We didn’t want to go in overconfident,” said Goeke, who has 18 goals and 20 assists on the season. “We thought they were going to be a good challenge. We were just playing very well.”

It has been a challenge for Goeke and his teammates to make up for the void left by last year’s seniors.

“It’s a new team every year,” said Goeke, the team’s alternate captain who is also a star goalie for the PHS boys’ lacrosse team.

“My freshman year we had a strong team; last year we had a strong team. This year, it’s different. We’ve adjusted well; I’m having a lot of fun.”

Goeke is certainly having fun playing on the same line as Naylor and Graham.

“We do have a good connection,” added Goeke. “The three of us have been playing together pretty much the whole season. We do have a lot of chemistry.”

PHS head coach Tim Campbell was surprised by the offensive chemistry his team showed in the rout of Hightstown.

“I talked to my guys before the game in the locker room,” said Campbell. “I said I don’t want to hear anybody taking this game for granted. We know what it feels like to be the underdog. We are in no position to be cocky or arrogant with the teams we play.”

While his team has been on the short end of several routs this season, Campbell made it clear he was not looking to embarrass Hightstown.

“It always gets into questions of sportsmanship and running up the score,” said Campbell, who got two goals from Graham in the victory with Naylor, Billy Ward, Dean DiTosto, Tim McDonnell, Peter Twining, Garrett Riley, Michael Irving, and Ishmael Hammoudi adding one apiece.

“At the top of my list is sportsmanship and class. I’ve got my fourth line in so I don’t have any problems saying we played responsibly. We played every single person on the team.”

The first-year head coach is hoping his club can use the outburst against Hightstown as a springboard.

“You’ve got to be a good loser before you can be a good winner,” said Campbell whose team is seeded 13th in the upcoming Mercer County Tournament and will play No. 4 Hopewell Valley on January 25 at Mercer County Park in opening round play. “This is a game we can build on. We have the county tournament coming up.”

Goeke, for his part, thinks the Little Tigers can build something pretty special.

“We’re making progress everyday,” maintained Goeke. “We come out to work hard everyday. Coach keeps us motivated and we are improving. We’re going to keep the same game plan and see if we can win some more games.”

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