Showing MCT Experience With Overtime Goal, Goldberg Helps PHS Boys’ Hockey Make Semis
By Bill Alden
Keith Goldberg has fond memories of helping Hun School boys’ hockey team win its fourth straight Mercer County Tournament title last winter.
“I was able to play in the championship game,” said Goldberg. “That was a big deal.”
Transferring to Princeton High for the 2017-18 school year, junior forward Goldberg enjoyed a big moment for his new team in this year’s MCT as the Little Tigers faced Robbinsville in a quarterfinal contest last Wednesday.
With the teams knotted at 3-3 in overtime, Goldberg swooped up the ice on a breakaway and fired the puck into the back of the net for the game-winning goal.
“I just saw the puck pop out on the wall and I started skating up; Aidan Trainer and I were going up two-on-two and all of a sudden I look up and the other defenseman fell down,” said Goldberg, recalling the winning tally.
“I just pulled it to the right, protected the puck, and went past him. I saw the entire left side of the net wide open.”
With PHS trailing 1-0 after the first period and 2-0 early in the second period, Goldberg acknowledged that it took a while for the Little Tigers to get going against the Ravens.
“I just don’t think we were ready in the first,” said Goldberg. “We came out in the second and we knew what we had to do. I think by the end of the third period, we kept them to maybe two or three shots.”
By virtue of the win, PHS was slated to face third-seeded Notre Dame in the semis on February 13 with the victor advancing to the title game on February 16 at the Mercer County Skating Center.
In Goldberg’s view, rallying for the win over Robbinsville should teach PHS a valuable lesson.
“This game can help us a little bit, I think this shows us we can’t come in cocky,” said Goldberg. “We have to come in working hard every game; we can’t take a shift off.”
For Goldberg, coming across town to PHS has been a positive experience.
“I was friends with everyone at PHS; I played with some of the guys,” said Goldberg. “At Hun, I didn’t play as much. I was on the third line.”
After sitting out the first 30 days of the season as a transfer under NJSIAA rules, Goldberg has been making a big impact for the Little Tigers.
“I was ready to be with the boys,” said Goldberg. “Usually I am with Aidan; he is a really good player with good vision, good hands, and a good shot. I can always feed him the puck and he feeds me the puck. We score a lot.”
PHS head coach Tim Chase wasn’t surprised to see Goldberg score the winning goal against Robbinsville.
“That was a great play,” said Chase. “He brings a lot of fire and energy. He is a big guy and he plays with a lot of emotion. We need more of that.”
The Little Tigers didn’t show enough emotion in the early stages against the Ravens.
“It is hard to play a team three or four times and beat them every time and get up for it, but that is no excuse,” said Chase.
“They played well in the first period and our guys didn’t. I think about halfway through the game, we turned it on. Our nemesis is our defensive end; we had sloppy turnovers and a shorthanded goal. We have actually been pretty good on the penalty killing, but for some reason today we were chasing all over the place, and you can’t do that on a penalty kill.”
In Chase’s view, PHS could benefit from the close call. “It should wake them up to see that every game counts and every period counts,” said Chase. “You can’t take a period off.”
Having split two regular season meetings with Notre Dame, losing 4-3 on January 10 and then winning 3-2 on February 2, the Little Tigers, now 15-7-2, can’t afford any lapses in round three against the Irish.
“They have a good goalie, so we are going to have to do what we did here a little better and crash the net,” said Chase.
“You can’t take it lightly on defense. One mistake and the puck could be in the back of our net. We have just got to sharpen up. Even if you are dominating the play, you still got to make sure that you take care of our zone.”
Goldberg, for his part, is looking for PHS to be sharper at the offensive end.
“We have to work hard and get a lot of shots,” said Goldberg. “In the past two games with them, we have dominated in shots, but then we only have three goals. I am going to tell the team we have to finish the quality shots.”