Last year, the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team absorbed a lopsided defeat to the Portledge School (N.Y.) in the WIHLMA semifinals.
This season, the squads met again in the league semis but the game took on an entirely different tone as PDS battled hard before succumbing 1-0.
In the view of Panther head coach Lorna Gifis Cook, the loss was emblematic of the progress the program made this year.
“I think on the way there, we could tell that everyone was confident about our chances, the girls were relaxed and focused,” said Cook.
“We gave up a goal in the first period with a few seconds left on a power play; it was pretty deflating at the time but the girls bounced back and kept going,” said Cook.
“We showed a lot of improvement. Last year we lost 6-1 to them in the semis.”
While Cook was proud of PDS’s final record of 11-8-1, she believes it is not an accurate barometer of the quality hockey displayed by the Panthers this winter.
“It is not representative of how much we improved,” said Cook. “We did have one more win than we had in the last two years. We had some games cancelled that we might have won.”
Cook points to a 3-3 tie at Shady Side Academy which came after a 4-1 loss in a two-game set between the teams on January 11 as a turning point for the
“In the second game we were down 3-1 late and Robin [Linzmayer] takes a questionable penalty with two minutes left and we get two goals to tie it,” recalled Cook.
“It felt like a win. We got momentum from that game and applied it to the rest of the season.”
The team’s senior group of Linzmayer, Abby Sharer, Mary Travers, Mimi Matthews, and Colby Triolo helped PDS finish strong.
“It has been fun coaching all of them; they have each contributed in unique ways,” asserted Cook.
“We had 72 goals and 81 assists as a team this season and the seniors accounted for 46 goals and 46 assists.”
Senior defenseman and team captain Linzmayer accounted for a lot of team’s success this season.
“Robin has been the best player on the team for the last three years,” said Cook of Linzmayer, who scored 22 points this winter on 13 goals and nine assists.
“She shoots the puck as hard as anyone, the last two years she brought it lower. She passes hard and skates hard. She finds ways to get into the offense. She is a presence, she is intimidating.”
The quartet of Sharer (1 goal, 9 assists), Travers (13 goals, 9 assists), Matthews (13 goals, 10 assists), and Triolo (6 goals, 9 assists) also played hard throughout the season.
“I have been coaching hockey for 10 years and I have never seen a player improve as much as Abby, to go from hardly playing to getting a lot of shifts and being in the penalty kill,” said Cook.
“It was so fun to see her improvement. Mary is a gifted athlete with a knack for finishing. Mimi has a good shot, is fast, and she really cares. Colby is as passionate about hockey as anyone I have seen.”
Cook believes the Panthers should have a lot of fun next season with a group of returnees that includes freshman Annika Asplundh, junior Katie Alden, freshman Daphne Stanton, sophomore Emma Stillwaggon, freshman Kristi Serafin, freshman Ashley Cavuto, and junior Carly King.
“The goalie situation is going to be the same and that is good, they both should come back that much better,” said Cook, who used Asplundh and Alden between the pipes.
“Daphne is positionally sound; we need to work on her confidence in finishing. Emma is scrappy. She had some of our bigger goals, including the tying goal against Shady Side. Everyone has a really high opinion of Kristi, she’ll be really fun to watch over the next three years. She is a true defenseman and we haven’t had that in a while. Ashley has so many tools that people haven’t seen, we need her to step it up. For Carly, it is finding the spots and making sure she is in control. Every team needs players like her, she finds a way to get it done even if it is not pretty at times.”