After a season-opening win over Pingry earlier in the week and then blanking Summit 4-0 on Saturday in the opening round of its Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational, the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team was primed for its clash against Rye Country Day in the tourney’s title game.
The Panthers jumped off to an early 1-0 lead on a goal by junior star defenseman Robin Linzmayer on Sunday morning at McGraw Rink.
But then the Panthers suffered their first lapse of the season, yielding two straight goals over the rest of the first period and three more unanswered tallies in the second to fall behind 5-1.
While PDS head coach Lorna Gifis Cook was happy to see her team get on the board first, she acknowledged that the Panthers didn’t build on the early salvo.
“That was definitely a positive, jumping out and getting the early lead,” said Cook.
“It is just we ended up giving up a goal very soon after that and that is deflating. That is why you always tell them, try not to ride your emotions too much. You want to stay pretty even keeled. I think Rye just did a better job of moving the puck around and cycling it in the corners and getting people in front. We just weren’t picking up.
Although PDS ended up losing by that 5-1 margin, Cook saw some positives in the third period.
“I was definitely happy with the third; we just talked to them about being more responsible defensively and making sure that we are picking up in front of the net,” said Cook.
“We had more shots in the third, we pretty much doubled our shot total for the game in the third period.”
Cook likes the way senior tri-captain and star forward Zeeza Cole has been shooting in the early going.
“Zeeza is stepping up; she is shooting to score a lot,” said Cook of Cole, who scored two goals in each of PDS’s first two games.
“She is sparking the offense. She is doing a really good job playing with Emma Stillwaggon and getting her involved. You are going to see continued improvement from that line with Lexie [Fairman] as Zeeza gets them more involved in the production too.”
PDS needs defenseman Linzmayer to keep up her production at both ends of the ice. “Robin has been solid for us on defense,” said Cook.
“The biggest thing is going to keep her producing for us because we need her offense as well. We have forwards who know how she is and are ready to stay back when they need to and cover for her. They need to be able to recognize when is a good time to go and be more of a threat.”
In Cook’s view, the team needs to improve on recognizing key situations as they develop.
“I think they work hard but they just need to have more confidence in where they need to be and be able to make plays,” asserted Cook.
“Everybody on the team has to be able to step up and win battles, be aggressive, pass with purpose, all these little things. They just need to be smarter. We have a lot of work to do as far as teaching more responsibility when they are out there.”
With PDS heading to Maryland this weekend for two games against Holton Arms (Md.) and one against Shady Side Academy (Pa.), Cook believes the Panthers will have ample opportunity to sharpen up.
“We are getting there and I am looking forward to this week,” said Cook. “I am very happy to have that trip in the beginning of the season this year, especially with a lot of new players getting them more comfortable with each other on and off the ice. It will be good.”