February 28, 2018

PDS Boys’ Hockey Keeps Battling to Final Buzzer, But Edged by Wyoming Seminary in MAHL Final

ALMOST THERE: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Ryan Lisk reaches for the puck last Wednesday as PDS hosted Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) in the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) championship game. Despite outshooting the Blue Knights 29-12, PDS ended up falling 1-0. The defeat left the Panthers with a final record of 17-8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team had already defeated Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) twice this season, Scott Bertoli knew that his squad faced a challenge as the rivals met in the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) championship game last Wednesday.

“They have adjusted and adapted a new style of play,” said PDS head coach Bertoli, whose team had topped Wyoming 4-3 on December 10 and 3-0 on January 3.

“In a lot of respects, it is a different team than we played and had our way with six weeks ago. They are just so defensive; their whole mindset is don’t give up odd-man rushes. They block shots.”

The suffocating Wyoming defense forced the Panthers to change their style as the teams skated to a scoreless tie into the second period.

“We are a team that is used to going in transition,” said Bertoli. “Because of the way they play, we were forced to dump pucks and retrieve. If you look at zone time, we carried play.”

The Blue Knights found the back of net midway through the second period to forge ahead 1-0.

“Wyoming broke through because we pressed and needed to take chances,” said Bertoli. “We gave up odd-man situations and ultimately that is how they scored a goal.”

In the third period, PDS went all out to score the tying goal, outshooting Wyoming 10-1 but the Panthers couldn’t break through as the Blue Knights, hung on for a 1-0 win and the title.

“I expected that, we needed to push, this is it,” said Bertoli, whose team’s third period surge left it with a 29-12 edge in shots on the evening.

“Unfortunately that was a tough matchup for us. They took some of our strengths away. We are a team that likes to play in transition. You could see they are clogging things up, they have four or five guys behind the puck. They force you to dump the puck and the goalie played well.”

While he badly wanted to see his team win a title, Bertoli had nothing but praise for how his players competed this winter as they ended with a 17-8 record.

“I really enjoyed being around this group; they play the game the right way,” asserted Bertoli.

“I thought it was a great year and I told them I haven’t had this much fun coaching in six or seven years, probably since Cody [Triolo] and Conrad [Denise] and that group in 2012-13.”

This year’s senior class, which includes Boris Gorelenkov,  Ryan Lisk, Eric Sherman, Brian Frister, Russell Friedman, and Nic Petruolo, made a great impact as they bounced back from a tough 3-16 campaign as freshmen.

“I feel so bad for those kids. Now they have left with nothing in some respects,” said Bertoli.

“They have a great record this year with some really, really huge wins. The Delbarton win (a 1-0 victory on December 13) is, I would argue, the biggest win in the program’s history. We all wanted success today. I appreciate all of the effort and commitment that they have made to this program. Three short years ago, they walked out of that locker room with three wins and here they are with 17 wins. They put themselves in a position to compete for this championship, which is our goal every year.”

With junior stars Chip Hamlett, Coby Auslander, and Ty Eastman coming back, PDS should be in a position to go for a title next winter.

“We have some really good players and some freshmen and sophomores who have made a big impact,” said Bertoli.

“I just look at our three juniors that are big time contributors. Chip [Hamlett] has arguably been our best defenseman all year long. Coby [Auslander] is our best player. Ty [Eastman] has been a totally different player than he was a year ago. Chip and Coby were elected all-league first team, Ty was all-league second team. They are obviously doing a lot of good things and having those three back as leaders and captains is encouraging.”

Although the discouraging loss to Wyoming stings, the Panthers have no reason to hang their heads.

“It is hard, it is disappointing; I have been around the game a long time. I get it, it is not always going to work out the way you want it to,” said Bertoli.

“I just feel bad for the seniors; I thought they deserved better. It has never been for lack of effort. One thing I told them is that you guys have brought it every single game in terms of showing an effort and a willingness to work. Today had nothing to do with that.”