Even though the Princeton High girls’ hockey team was trailing Rye Country Day School 9-2 late in the second period last Thursday, Abby Hunter wasn’t about to stop fighting.
Chasing down a loose puck, the PHS senior forward raced to the net on a breakaway. While Hunter didn’t notch a goal, she drew a penalty to help the Little Tiger cause.
“I really try to give my all, no matter what,” said Hunter. “Coach [Christian] Herzog always says I am like a midfielder, I backcheck so hard.”
PHS ended up losing 10-2 to the Wildcats to fall to 1-8 but Hunter maintains the record doesn’t reflect the hard work the Little Tigers have put into improving.
“The results are not really demonstrative of how well we have been doing,” said Hunter.
“Pingry, who we played last night and lost to 10-6, destroyed us in the beginning of the season. I think we only got two or three goals. We have really grown better at passing and becoming more aware of each other on the ice, especially with so many new additions to the team. We have really come together.”
Hunter’s play against Rye reflected the team’s progress as she assisted on the first goal and scored the second goal.
“On the first goal, I passed it to Campbell [McDonald], who went on a breakaway,” recalled Hunter.
“She shot and Lucy [Herring] was right there to score; it was definitely a good flow. My goal was a nice one. Erin Forden assisted me. It was right on my stick and went through the goalie’s legs which always feels good.”
Playing with freshmen McDonald and Herring on the first line has been a good experience for the battle-tested Hunter.
“It is kind of funny because Keely [Herring] and I coached Campbell and Lucy when they were in middle school,” said Hunter.
“It is fun because I am telling them the same instructions I was telling them back then. They are always in the right place; they know where to be. It is good to have a lot of backup there.”
Hunter and classmate Herring have tried to be good role models for the whole team.
“It is hard for the girls to try really hard because we have practices so early,” said Hunter, noting that the team typically practices at 5:30 in the morning at Baker Rink on the campus of Princeton University.
“What Keely and I try to do is to lead by example, pushing ourselves in practice.”
The two senior standouts have developed a deep bond in the process.
“Starting as freshmen, Keely and I have always been together on lines,” said Hunter, who is a tri-captain of the Little Tigers along with Herring and Vinita Su.
“This year she is playing more defensively. We have gone through a lot, starting as a great team when we were freshman and then losing a lot of players and then getting a lot of people back this year.”
Hunter has received a lot of support from her teammates as she has gone through those ups and downs.
“It has been a roller-coaster for us but it has been really good,” asserted Hunter.
“The girls on the team are really helpful when you are going through things and losing, it is hard to keep your head in the right place. We have so much fun together. With the budget cuts, we have had to do fundraising. That has helped us really come together as a team.”
With PHS wrapping up the season over the next few weeks with a game at Summit on February 3 and the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) tournament on February 11 and 12, Hunter is looking to have plenty of fun in her final days with the team.
“I am not going to be playing D-I or D-III hockey in college,” said Hunter, a native of Toronto who moved to Princeton when she was 10.
“I want to play hard and take advantage of the last few games here because it has been a really huge part of my high school life. This team is everything to me.”