January 2, 2019

PHS Boys’ Hockey Tops Notre Dame in 2018 Finale As Junior Standout Trainor Triggers Scoring Outburst

BIG TRAIN: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Aidan Trainor controls the puck in recent action. Junior forward Trainor came up big as PHS defeated Notre Dame 6-4 in its last action before the holiday break. Trainor tallied three goals and two assists in the December 21 contest as the Little Tigers improved to 7-3-1. In upcoming action, PHS will be playing Hun on January 2 at Baker Rink and then facing Steinert on January 4 and Robbinsville on January 5 with those games taking place at the Mercer County Park Rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For the Princeton High boys’ hockey team, some defensive heroics helped trigger a scoring outburst as it battled Notre Dame in its last action before the holiday break.

With PHS trailing 2-1 late in the first period, it killed off successive 5-on-3 power plays for the Irish to keep the game tight and bring some momentum into the second period.

“It is a total momentum shift,” said PHS junior forward Trainor, reflecting on the penalty killing. “It gives the team a lot of energy moving into the next period.”

Trainor energized the Little Tigers in the next period, scoring two goals as PHS forged ahead 3-2.

“In the second period, we were firing on all cylinders,” said Trainor. “That was a fun period. It was very tough to get up and down the ice against a team like Notre Dame. It was good to pull out and get those goals
because they were important going into the third period.”

Trainor kept firing away in the third, notching the go-ahead goal after the Irish knotted the game at 3-3 and then adding another goal and an assist as PHS pulled away to a 6-4 triumph and improved to 7-3-1.

“It was just like a scrum in front and the rebound popped out and it was ‘let me put that in,’ so that goal was important to get us back on top,” said Trainor.

Playing on the same line with his younger brother, sophomore forward Colm, who had had a goal and three assists against Notre Dame, has helped the team’s offensive production.

“It is so much fun playing with Colm; he is a great player and he sees the ice really well,” said Trainor, who has another brother on the team, senior forward Robby.

“He is able to make some really nice plays, especially moving through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. I grew up playing with him in the house.”

Having started the week by falling to Pingry 2-1 on
December 17 and then losing 7-1 to St. Augustine the next day, PHS sorely needed a victory over the Irish.

“We came into this game just really wanting a win,” said Trainor. “It was good to pull away, especially against a team like Notre Dame. In the past three years we have had very close games with them and a little rivalry going on in the division. That is a good win to have.”

With two high school seasons under his belt, Trainor is looking to be better all over the ice.

“Going into this year, I just looked at where I fell short last year come the state tournament and some of the important games, like the county final,” said Trainor. “I realized to pick it up in the defensive zone and be able to move the puck up the neutral zone better, getting more chances.”

PHS head coach Tim Chase liked the way his team buried its chances against Notre Dame.

“In the last two or three games we have outshot the teams but we are barely scoring goals,” said Chase.“We needed some games where we put the puck in the net and finish.”

The Trainor combination has given the Little Tigers a finishing touch. “They each know the game well and they feed off each other, so it is nice,” said Chase. “They are fun to watch.”

Chase believes that PHS can have a lot of fun when it returns from the holiday break by playing Hun on January 2 and then facing Steinert on January 4 and Robbinsville on January 5.

“We haven’t been on the ice much for practices; we have mostly games in December,” said Chase. “We knew we would have some things to clean up. Offensively we look good. We get pressure and we sustain pressure. Now we have to clean up in our end.”

In Trainor’s view, the Little Tigers will be primed to get things rolling in 2019.

“In the losses that we have, we know what we did wrong and what we need to fix,” said Trainor.

“Those are tough teams that we lost to. We know where we stand going into the holiday break and we know what we need to improve upon coming out of the break.”