Sparked by Eastman’s Emergence as Scoring Threat, PDS Boys’ Hockey Advances to MAHL Title Game
EASTERN EXPRESS: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Ty Eastman skates up the ice in recent action. Last Wednesday, junior forward Eastman tallied a goal and an assist as second-seeded PDS defeated third-seeded LaSalle College High (Pa.) 4-2 in the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) semis. The Panthers, now 17-7, host fourth-seeded Wyoming Seminary in the title game on February 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
During his sophomore season with the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team, Ty Eastman played it close to the vest when he got the puck.
“Last year I was very hesitant,” said Eastman. “I wasn’t taking chances.”
Teaming up this winter with fellow junior Coby Auslander and senior Ryan Lisk on the team’s top line, Eastman has emerged as an offensive force.
“They have just been feeding me and I have been getting shots,” said Eastman. “I think my confidence definitely has gone up for sure.”
Last Wednesday, Eastman displayed that confidence, scoring the first goal as PDS jumped out to a 1-0 lead against LaSalle College High (Pa.) in the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) semis.
“We had the power play going,” said Eastman, recalling the tally. “Chip [Hamlett] did a good of keeping the puck in. Ryan fed me in the slot. On all of our goals, everyone is working.”
PDS entered the third period leading 3-1 but had to work hard to win as LaSalle narrowed the gap to 3-2 before the Panthers tacked on a late goal to earn a 4-2 victory. As a result of the win, PDS, now 17-7, will be hosting Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) in the MAHL title game on February 21.
Eastman and his teammates were thrilled to make it to their first MAHL title game.
“We knew what happened last year in the semis; we were up 3-0 and then they came back and beat us,” said Eastman, who also had an assist in the win over LaSalle.
“We knew they were going to push, but we just had to come out hard, and luckily we got it done. It is big, it was our goal at the beginning of the year. We wanted to be able to host the championship game and get a crack at it. This is our league, and you want to be the champs in anything you play.”
Playing with Auslander and Lisk this season has been a huge plus for Eastman.
“We have a great chemistry,” said Eastman. “I do the battling work and they feed me the puck. We work well together, we love playing with each other. It is fun.”
It has been fun for PDS head coach Scott Bertoli to see Eastman’s progress.
“Ty is a completely different player than he was last year. The kid, at times, can be dominant,” said Bertoli.
“He benefits from playing with really skilled kids. The chemistry is tremendous and they are arguably the best line on the ice every game out. Ty just brings that bigger, physical power forward type of edge and then the kid has a knack for scoring goals. He goes to the hard areas of the rink. He gives us an element that we haven’t had in a while and he has a good skill level. I think confidence is the biggest thing with him.”
Bertoli credited PDS with showing confidence down the stretch as it held off a determined LaSalle squad that generated some good scoring chances after it narrowed the gap to 3-2 midway through the third period.
“I just like the fact that we gutted it out at the end; we knew they were going to make a push. They are a good team,” said Bertoli.
“We found a way, we started blocking shots. We started doing the little things. Boris [Gorelenkov] made some great saves; he played tremendous down the stretch. There were a couple of situations where there were pucks out front and he was controlling rebounds, which is great.”
For Bertoli, seeing the Panthers reach the MAHL final represents a breakthrough for the program.
“It felt like we needed somewhere to hang our hat and this was a group of teams, year in, year out, that we were having really competitive games with,” said Bertoli.
“It has gotten to the point where the kids get excited about it. As a coach, I value this much more than I ever valued the Prep tournament because the quality of the teams in this league is so high.”
Earning the title would be something of great value for the PDS players.
“This to me is much bigger than anything we have done; we have had some of the bigger wins in my tenure, obviously beating Delbarton (1-0 on December 13) was a huge feather in our cap,” said Bertoli.
“Other than read about it the next day in the paper, you are not hanging banners. As good as I think this team is, I wanted them to feel that there is something they can come back and walk into this rink for. To hang a banner and win this championship would be something that is well deserved.”
Even though the Panthers have already posted two victories over Wyoming this season, winning 4-3 on December 10 and 3-0 on January 3, topping the surging Blue Knights for a third time isn’t going to be an easy task.
“Wyoming Seminary will pose a different challenge, they are an older and physical group that has a really good goaltender,” said Bertoli.
“They have obviously done a lot of good things because they have had some good results in the last two weeks. I like the fact that it is at home. It is great for our kids, it is great for our seniors and it is great for our community. It was one of the goals at the start of the year. One was to host a semifinal game and ideally get to the final. It is an extra bonus that it is at home.”
Eastman, for his part, believes that PDS is ready to give a great effort in the title clash.
“We have played them twice and we know they are a tough group,” said Eastman.
“It is not going to be easy; it is going to be a battle. We know if we come out hard and play our game, we can have success.”