December 5, 2018

Sophomore Antonacci Showing Progress As PDS Boys’ Hockey Produces 2-1 Start

COOL HAND LUKE: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Luke Antonacci heads up the ice in recent action. Last Monday, sophomore forward Antonacci had two goals and three assists to help PDS defeat Morristown-Beard 13-2. The Panthers, now 2-1, play at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on December 5 and at Delbarton on December 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Luke Antonacci was determined to help the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team get off to a good start as it hosted Gloucester Catholic last Thursday, looking to bounce back from an opening day loss.

“We just wanted put pucks on the net, get shots in goal,” said Antonacci, reflecting on the team’s mindset in the wake of a 2-1 loss to St. Joe’s Prep two days earlier in the first game of the 2018-19 campaign. “Everyone was desperate to score.”

Antonacci opened the scoring, tallying a goal 3:12 into the contest. “I got a good feed from Coby Auslander off a point shot; I was lucky enough to be in that position to put it in,” said Antonacci.

About six minutes later, Antonacci found the back of the net again as PDS took a 3-0 lead.

“I got a pass in the zone and had enough room to skate it,” recalled Antonacci. “I just unleashed it.”

Building on that good start, the Panthers pulled away to a 6-1 triumph.

“It is obviously easier to keep it going after you have a lead,” said Antonacci. “We showed good character, not giving up after getting the first three goals.”

With a season of high school hockey under his belt, Antonacci is looking to shoulder more responsibility for the Panthers.

“As a freshman I was a little nervous coming out, I had to get to know all of the older guys and I wasn’t as comfortable taking shots like that,” said Antonacci, who had two goals and three assists as PDS defeated Morristown Beard 13-2 last Monday. “As a sophomore, you have got to come out stronger. You can be a leader on this team and I had to take that role.”

Antonacci is enjoyed working with senior stars Auslander and Ty Eastman in the win over Gloucester Catholic.

“Last year I didn’t have the opportunity to play with them, so I had to work hard in practice to get to know them,” said Antonacci. “I think we work well together.”

PDS head coach Scott Bertoli likes the way Antonacci went hard to the goal.

“We moved Luke up from being the center of our second line to play on the wing with Coby and Ty,” said Bertoli.

“It is going to be an ongoing process, moving guys around just trying to find the right mix. Luke is a heck of a hockey player and I think anyone would benefit from playing with him and likewise anyone that gets the opportunity to play with Coby and Ty are going to get a ton of scoring chances. Luke has the ability to put the puck into the net.”

In the win over Gloucester, PDS displayed scoring balance as Alex Allen, Chris Cecila, Gibson Linnehan, and David Sherman added added one goal apiece.

“We had different guys score, we try to empower all of these kids regardless of whether they are freshmen, first line, second line or third line guys,” said Bertoli.

“They have all got the ability to score and create offensive opportunities. We want them to feel capable and willing to get a puck on their stick and their objective should be to put it in the back of the net.”

Junior goalie Jeremy Siegel looked sharp, making 10 saves, including a couple of point blank stops.

“He is athletic, he is quick,” said Bertoli of Siegel. “He has had a ton of success at the club level. He is obviously a huge addition for us and the tandem of him and David Lee gives us a lot of stability and confidence back there. Confidence is crucial. If you know you got a guy who is going to bail you out if you make a pretty critical mistake. He made some big stops today. When it is 3-0 if they score and make it 3-1, it is a different game.”

The pair of junior Cecila and senior Chip Hamlett set the tone for the defensive unit.

“Chris had a good game and Chip is solid, that kid could play half the game and play plus hockey for us,” said Bertoli.

“It is bringing the younger kids along. I thought Trevor Mackles had a physical piece to his game today as a freshman, which is good. He got drilled a couple of times which is part of learning curve but he gave it back and that is encouraging to see.”

Bertoli was encouraged by his team’s intensity as it bounced back from the opening day loss.

“I was really impressed with the energy and the compete level, that is what I expected,” said Bertoli, whose team plays at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on December 5 and at Delbarton on December 11.

“After watching the first five or six minutes of the game, I was confident that we may not score but we should carry the play and do a lot of good things. We did and the score was what we needed it to be.”

In Antonacci’s view, PDS has the potential to do a lot of good things this winter.

“We have the chemistry down right now from what I saw today,” said Antonacci.

“Moving forward, I think we are just going to be able to get stronger and start to know where everyone is on the ice.”