January 30, 2019

PDS Boys’ Hockey Edged 5-4 by Lawrenceville, Eastman Lights Up Baker Rink in Losing Cause

COLD WAR: Princeton Day School boys’ player Ty Eastman, right, battles a Lawrenceville School player for the puck last Thursday as the rivals met in Hobey Baker Rink. Senior forward Eastman scored two goals in a losing cause as PDS fell 5-4 to the Big Red. The Panthers, who moved to 11-9-1 with the setback, play at St. Augustine on January 30 before hosting Seton Hall Prep on January 31 and Chatham High on February 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

A raucous throng of fans flocked to Hobey Baker Rink last Wednesday as the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team faced Lawrenceville in the latest installment of their heated local rivalry.

Minutes into the contest, the blue-clad PDS supporters were stunned into an uneasy silence as Lawrenceville jumped out to an early lead, scoring three unanswered goals in the first 12 minutes of the contest.

While that certainly wasn’t the game plan for the Panthers, senior forward Ty Eastman was confident that PDS could dig out of that hole.

“You don’t want to go down 3-0, it is the biggest game of the year for us,” said senior forward Eastman. “We still had the whole game left; we started to come together.”

The Panthers started a comeback when junior forward  Alex Allen found the back of the net with 3:26 left in the period.

“That was huge,” said Eastman. “It was just take it down and get a nice play; he had a great finish.”

PDS got a goal from sophomore star Luke Antonacci in the waning seconds of the period to draw within 3-2 heading into the first intermission.

“We were were really confident the whole game,” said Eastman. “It got to a one-goal game.”

Minutes later, Eastman displayed his confidence with the puck, firing in a top-shelf blast that tied the game at 3-3 with 3:45 left in the second period.

“My line mates Coby [Auslander] and David [Sherman] did a great job of getting me the puck and the goalie went down,” recalled Eastman. “I was fortunate it went in.”

After Lawrenceville stretched its lead to 5-3 with a tally late in the second period and another score early in the third, Eastman struck again, knocking the puck past the Lawrenceville goalie to make it a 5-4 game with 14:13 left in regulation. “Coby gave me a great pass and I got a good bounce,” said Eastman.

The Panthers didn’t get the bounces after that, however, failing to cash in on a late power play despite generating some good opportunities, ending up dropping a 5-4 nail-biter to the Big Red.

“We had some great chances, that was kind of it there,” said Eastman, reflecting on the last power play.

Eastman has relished the chance to skate with classmate Auslander over the last few years.

“We are best friends; we have been playing together for about three years now,” said Eastman. “We find each other, we know each other’s games.”

PDS head coach Scott Bertoli liked the way his players found another gear as the showdown was moved to Baker Rink for the first time.

“It is a really neat environment; it was great that we brought the game over here,” said Bertoli.

“We haven’t beaten them at home and they haven’t beaten us at home. It didn’t take away from the level of play, I thought it was a great game.”

Early on, Bertoli feared that the game may get away from his squad.

“There were points when it got to three, I was ‘oh my god, this could get ugly and they could steamroll us,’” said Bertoli.

“You look at their results, they have typically done that. They push it out, there are a lot of 5-1, 6-1 games so that absolutely crossed my mind.”

Bertoli was heartened to see his team push back. “Alex’s goal was huge and then to score on the power play, that response was very good,” said Bertoli.

“I thought we were great in the second period. Ty’s goal was great. Because we are throwing the same kids over the boards, we got a little bit tired but still in the third period, we had our opportunities.”

Seeing Eastman take advantage of scoring opportunities was a highlight of the game for Bertoli.

“Ty has been a little bit snakebitten of late,” said Bertoli.  “For him to break out of it in a game like this is awesome for him and hopefully propels him to have a good final six, seven games.”

While the Panthers were brokenhearted after the loss, Bertoli tipped his hat to his senior leaders.

“I can’t say enough about Coby, Ty, and Chip [Hamlett], our three captains,” said Bertoli, whose team moved to 11-9-1 with the setback and will look to get back on the winning track as it plays at St. Augustine on January 30 before hosting Seton Hall Prep on January 31 and Chatham High on February 5.

“They spent half of the game on the ice. They are three of the best kids, both on and off the ice, and what they have meant to the program, that we have ever had here. I am devastated that they didn’t get the result that they want. I am thrilled with the way they played and competed.”

With the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) playoffs on the horizon, Bertoli believes his squad can compete with anybody.

“If we get another opportunity to play them or Hill (a 1-0 overtime loss on January 9), the kids have to feel good about it,” said Bertoli. “We played the two best teams in our league to one-goal games.”

Eastman, for his part, feels good about things heading into the stretch drive.

“We just want to finish out strong,” said Eastman. “At the end of the day, it was just a league game. We still have our MAHL playoffs to come. I believe in us. I know that we can compete with any team in the league.”