Even though the Princeton High girls’ hockey team went winless this winter, Christian Herzog saw a special toughness in his players.
“We were like the Joe Pesci character (Nicky Santoro) in Casino, if you beat us with fists, we come back with a bat,” said PHS head coach Herzog, noting that his team played some of its best hockey in the Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic (WIHLMA) tournament where it fell 4-0 to Shady Side Academy (Pa.) in its final game of ‘B’ bracket play.
“If you beat us with a bat, we come back with a knife. If you beat us with a knife, we come back with a gun. We take a licking and keep on ticking.”
Sophomore star Lucy Herring proved to be PHS’s top gun this winter. “The MVP was Lucy Herring; she took the brunt of everything,” said Herzog.
“I felt bad because she had a lot on her shoulders. I told her that she had that role because I know she is an athlete and can handle it. She thrives under pressure. She had around 15 points, she was our leading scorer.”
Senior defenseman Hanna Kostenbader emerged as a key leader for the Little Tigers this winter.
“Hanna Kostenbader won our Abby Hunter head, heart, hustle award,” said Herzog.
“She texted me before the playoffs saying she slammed her hand into a door and she didn’t know how much she could help but that she would be there. She is a righty and she played with her left hand. I don’t think many other players would have tried that. She came out and fought through it. She was a good leader. She was willing to work hard and throw her body around.”
The team also got an emotional lift from seniors KC Read-Fisher and Brooke Solomon.
“KC and Brooke really helped off the ice as well,” added Herzog. “They were spirit motivators for the team.”
PHS features some spirited returning players in sophomore Brittney Coniglione, freshman Isabel Sohn, junior Molly O’Brien, junior Merritt Peck, and junior Kate Sohn.
“Coniglione was angrier than I was when someone scored; she takes it seriously,” said Herzog.
“She would say to me that one is on me and it is not going to happen again. Izzy Sohn came out strong, I like her style, she really goes after the puck. Molly O’Brien was our second leading scorer, she came on. Merritt Peck was becoming a menace in the corners at the end of the season. Kate Sohn put forth a good effort. She was the epitome of good sportsmanship and won our sportsmanship award.”
The team’s tandem of goaltenders, junior Breanna Hegerty-Thorne and freshman Callie Urisko, also made good improvement.
“Both goaltenders played well and made progress; I think they had 500 saves between them over the season,” said Herzog.
“Breanna is good at coming out on breakaways, Callie is good on the angles. They really jelled with the team.”
In Herzog’s view, the squad has the potential to really jell into something special going forward.
“The girls are gung ho and ready for next year,” said Herzog. “We have some good girls coming back and I am looking for a stronger year.”