With Wright Assuming Bigger Role Offensively, PDS Boys’ Hockey Makes Strides at Invitational
Will Wright wasn’t quite in synch in the early going this season for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team.
“The first couple of games I started out slow,” said senior forward Wright. “I was playing on the wing and last year I played center. I moved down to the second line to play center and that has helped me a lot because I can control the pace a little bit.”
Wright picked up the pace last weekend as PDS hosted its 45th annual Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational. In an opening round contest against Rye Country Day (N.Y.), Wright tallied a goal and an assist as the Panthers prevailed 5-2 to earn their first victory of the season. A day later, he added an assist as a late PDS rally fell short in a 4-3 loss to Shady Side Academy (Pa.) in the championship game.
In Wright’s view, the Panthers made progress over the weekend as they moved to 1-2-2 on the season.
“I think getting that first win was a good thing,” said Wright. “The ties we had were against two teams that are now in the top 10 teams in the state so it is good to know now we can close it out. The team we played today was a good team and we didn’t have our whole team. It was a good effort.”
Wright was happy with his effort individually in the tournament. “I thought I played well,” said Wright.
“In past years, I was more of a role player and chipped in a couple times but now I am being relied on a lot more to score.”
PDS head coach Scott Bertoli was happy to see Wright and sophomore Keith Asplundh chip in offensively over the weekend.
“The only way that we are going to compete against the better teams is if we get secondary scoring,” said Bertoli, who got two goals and an assist from Asplundh in the tournament. “Will and Keith had tremendous weekends and contributed offensively and we need that.”
Bertoli also liked the way his team competed against Shady Side as it saw a 2-1 lead turn into a 4-2 deficit after the visitors scored three goals during a 1:24 span in the second period.
“What I love about it is that fact that we responded; they got three goals, bang, bang, bang and then we take control the last three minutes and we make it a 4-3 game and the kids are feeling good about themselves,” said Bertoli, who felt good about the play of senior Harrison Latham, who got the third goal for PDS in the final and was later named the PDS recipient of the Christopher Reeve Sportsmanship Award at the tournament.
“We came into the locker room and we made a few adjustments. I just told them there is no question that they are the better team, they are bigger and stronger and faster but it doesn’t mean they have to win. You go out there and you execute and you play and you look for a bounce and you play good defensive hockey, you can keep yourself in the game and I think we did that.”
While PDS didn’t pull out the game on Saturday, Bertoli sees good things ahead for his young squad which only has three seniors and four juniors.
“I think it is growing pains; it is always going to go in cycles like this,” said Bertoli.
“Every program is going to go through it. You just hope that your lows aren’t that low and I don’t think that they are going to be with this group because I think they are talented, they are motivated, and I think they genuinely enjoy each other and playing for the school. They are highly motivated and they play at a very high competitive level. They are smart enough to recognize that they will make some mistakes and they will learn from them and move on.”
Wright, for his part, believes the Panthers are moving in the right direction. “All the freshmen are really good players and I think we are just beginning to get the system down and you see that progression throughout our games,” said Wright.
“Once we perfect the system, which I would guess is four or five games away, I think we will be a really good team.”