January 9, 2019

With Podgalsky Making Noise on Defense, PHS Boys’ Hockey Stifles Robbinsville 6-1

PODCAST: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Nathan Podgalsky heads up the ice in a game earlier this season. Last Monday, senior defenseman and assistant captain Podgalsky led a solid defensive effort and contributed two assists to help PHS defeat Robbinsville 6-1. The Little Tigers, who improved to 9-4-1 with the win, play St. John Vianney at Hobey Baker Rink on January 10 and then face Hopewell Valley on January 11 and Notre Dame on January 15, with both of those games to take place at the Mercer County Park rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As a senior defenseman and assistant captain for the Princeton High boys’ hockey team, Nathan Podgalsky knows he has to speak up this winter. 

“I am definitely a voice, you have to keep the boys motivated,” said Podgalsky. “You got to keep them in line.’

Last Monday, Podgalsky and PHS was motivated to stifle Robbinsville as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two periods and cruised to a 6-1 victory, improving to 9-4-1.

“We have been having a little bit of trouble with our defense but tonight we just really connected,” said Podgalsky. “We were running what we wanted to run, which was good.”

Podgalsky enjoys running with defensive partner junior Ryan McCormick.

“Ryan is a physical player and he has a good head on his shoulders,” said Podgalsky. “He knows where to be.”

When Robbinsville scored a power play goal early in the third period to make it a 3-1 game, Podgalsky was in the right place moments later, setting up a goal by PHS sophomore star Colm Trainor as the Little Tigers regained momentum.

“I did a couple of pinches to keep it in on the boards and then Colm [Trainor] came down and I saw that right away,” recalled Podgalsky, who also assisted on a goal by Austin Micale later in the period. “It is a Trainor, I knew it was going to go in.”

PHS head coach Tim Chase liked what he saw from Podgalsky in the win over the Ravens.

“Nate had a good game today, he played hard,” said Chase. “He pinched when he should and he made a couple of nice passes. We need that down the stretch. It is nice to score goals but you have to play well in your end and it starts with the defense.”

Freshman goalie Daniel Prokoshin played well against the Ravens, making 20 saves on the evening.

“Daniel tracks the puck well,” said Chase. “He moves well side-to-side with the puck. He is not as big of a body so he has got to come out and be a little more aggressive and cover his angles.”

Chase was looking for his squad to be more aggressive collectively on defense.

“We are trying to shore up that part of our game,” said Chase. “We have been struggling with consistency of playing hard in our end. I was more worried about that than how many goals we scored tonight.”

Answering the Robbinsville goal, though, was a key moment for PHS.

“That was good, we responded,” said Chase. “We came out a little flat on that and they capitalized on it. We came right out and put one back in so it was nice to see the good response.”

With the Little Tigers having posted two wins since a 7-3 loss to Hun last Wednesday, Chase is hoping that PHS can get in a roll in January.

“We were playing sloppy that day and Hun is a good team, so if you are not going to play well, it is going hurt,” said Chase, whose squad plays St. John Vianney at Baker Rink on January 10 and then faces Hopewell Valley on January 11 and Notre Dame on January 15, with both of those games to take place at the Mercer County Park rink.

“In a game or two, that will be a good showing on whether we can continue that good play or revert back to the old ways.”

Podgalsky, for his part, believes that the win over Robbinsville could be a harbinger of good things to come.

“This is definitely a good rebound from that,” said Podgalsky, referring to the Hun loss.

“Every year, Robbinsville has given us a run for our money. We have St. John Vianney coming up, we definitely have to prepare for that and it should be a good game. We are not ready yet for the postseason but we are definitely a states qualification team.”