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PHS Boys’ Hockey Emphasizing Sharp Play As It Aims to Remain Among County’s Elite

BIG MAC: Princeton High boys’ hockey star Patrick McCormick goes after a puck in action last winter. PHS is counting on junior defenseman McCormick to shoulder much of the load along the blue line this winter. PHS, which went 15-7-2 last winter in advancing to its third straight Mercer County Tournament championship game, opens its 2012-13 campaign by facing Hightstown on November 30 at Mercer County Park.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Over the last three years, the Princeton High boys’ hockey team has become a fixture in the Mercer County Tournament championship game, winning the title in 2011 and coming in second in 2010 and last winter.

PHS head coach Tim Campbell is proud of his team’s consistent excellence in the MCT and what it says about the program.

“I think, without a doubt, we have been the best public high school program in the area over the last few years,” said Campbell, whose team fell to Notre Dame in last year’s county title game on the way to a 15-7-2 record.

“We are ready to do that again. By the time we get to the playoffs in February, I think we will be good again.”

As PHS works its way over the next few months to the postseason, it will need to answer some key question marks, starting at goalie where junior Robert Quinn is replacing four-year starter Josh Berger.

“Robert did camps over the summer and played in a summer league; he has been on the ice a lot,” said Campbell, noting that Joseph Dawes and Mike Dunlap will serve as back-ups.

“Robert is a good athlete; he is a soccer goalie and a baseball catcher so he is defensive-minded. We are lucky to have someone like him who we have confidence in to come in after Josh.”

Quinn will need to be good, as the PHS defense is not blessed with depth. “We are very thin on defense; we are going to have a short bench,” said Campbell.

The Little Tigers do have some good talent along the blue line in juniors Patrick McCormick and Harrison Naylor.

“Patrick McCormick and Harrison Naylor will anchor the blue line for us,” said Campbell, whose team starts the season by facing Hightstown on November 30 at Mercer County Park.

“They’ll be on the ice most of the time. Patrick is a phenomenal skater. He is one of the most naturally gifted, fundamentally sound skaters that I have seen. He is a smart player and has a good shot. Harrison is one of the most improved players I have seen; he is a tough, smart player.”

At forward, PHS boasts enough depth to make things tough on its foes. “Matt DiTosto has had some key playing time for us since he has joined the team” said Campbell.

“He is definitely a go-to guy for us. Spencer Reynolds and Gabe MacGregor are in the mix. Jack Andres is really tough, Connor McCormick and John Reid are smart hockey players.”

While Campbell believes his offense can be productive, he knows that he needs to shore up the defense if PHS is going to be a title contender.

“We will focus on defense,” said Campbell, whose team also advanced to the second round of the state Public B tournament last winter.

“You build successful teams around defense and  we will do whatever we can to keep the puck out of the net. We will put whomever we need on defense to help us do that.”

The Little Tigers also have to focus on playing clean hockey to experience success this winter.

“We have to play smart hockey with as few penalties as possible,” asserted Campbell.

“We need to play smart, defense-minded hockey. We need to hold shot totals down and play good neutral zone defense.”

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