Sean Timmons was determined to set the tone as the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team hosted the Hill School (Pa.) last Wednesday.
“I felt pretty good going out on the ice and confident in my linemates out there,” said junior forward Timmons.
“We definitely wanted to come out strong and get into the offensive zone and get some shots on net and just get it going. We knew we were the better team and if we played the way we could and worked hard, we knew we could come out with the result we wanted.”
Timmons certainly had it going early, assisting on a goal by Conrad Denise some 6:30 into the contest and then finding the back of the net himself on a blast with 3:03 remaining in the first period as the Panthers jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
“Conrad made a nice play going to the net on the first goal,” recalled Timmons. “On my goal, Taran [Auslander] made a nice breakout pass; I thought I missed at first.”
PDS didn’t miss many opportunities the rest of the game as it pulled away to a 5-0 triumph.
“We just kept it going and we didn’t let up,” said Timmons, who picked up a second assist in the game on a second period tally by Rob Colton.
“We just rolled three lines and kept it going. We kept playing the way we could to get the result.”
The team’s positive chemistry has helped PDS get on a roll this winter. “We definitely are a very close-knit group; we are almost like a brotherhood in the locker room,” said Timmons.
“We get along very well. I have never played on team like this where we all get along so well. It just makes it so much easier on the ice.”
Timmons is giving the team more on the ice in his third campaign with the Panthers.
“I try to generate some offense and get the puck in deep,” said Timmons, who tallied another assist as PDS topped Pennsylvania power LaSalle 2-1 in overtime last Friday to improve to 12-1.
“I try to produce and help the team any way I can. I am definitely bigger and stronger, I tried to work on my speed over the off season and I have probably gained a little knowledge over my years.”
PDS head coach Scott Bertoli likes the production he is getting from Timmons.
“I think a lot changed with him when we went up to New England,” said Bertoli, referring to the team’s third-place showing at the Barber Tournament in Massachusetts in mid-December.
“We had some guys banged up and I think he just bought into being physical and getting his nose in there. He had a great weekend up there and his play has carried over. He always shows up on the scoresheet. He is a year removed from that shoulder injury. I have noticed a significant difference in his game this year.”
Bertoli was not surprised to see his squad get off to a great start against Hill.
“We have been fortunate enough this year that I don’t really have to worry about the way these guys are going to start,” said Bertoli.
“They get themselves ready for the game; they have a whole warmup routine that they go through. We typically have gotten off to good starts. We have an older group, an experienced group that has won a lot of hockey games and we feel pretty good about ourselves. It is just nice to play well and to get a win today. We played well enough to deserve that today.”
The Panthers got another nice effort from senior star goalie Connor Walker, who made 16 saves in notching the shutout.
“We have had sizable leads and margins in most of our wins so Connor hasn’t been pushed and the attention and focus hasn’t been on him,” said Bertoli.
“I am sitting on the bench knowing that he just made a save on a breakaway in the second period when it is only 3-0. That turns things around because if that goes in it’s a 3-1 game and some momentum is lost. He is confident; I think he does a good job of keeping himself involved in the game. I have noticed that he plays the puck more this season, maybe that is a way for him to stay involved in the game.”
Bertoli’s team will get pushed as it plays at Lawrenceville on January 16 before hosting Hun on January 18 and Morristown High on January 21.
“As a coach or as an athlete you want to play the best,” asserted Bertoli, a former Princeton University hockey star who enjoyed a superb pro career with the Trenton Titans.
“If you want to be the best, you have to play the best and beat the best. I think we have set ourselves up this year for that.”
Timmons, for his part, believes the Panthers are up for that challenge. “This is definitely the thick of our schedule, we have been looking forward to it since last summer,” said Timmons.
“This is what we play for. We are really ready for this. I think we are going to do well.”