Rebounding From Defeat in MCT Final, PHS Boys’ Hockey Makes Public B Quarters
GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Keith Goldberg, right, gathers in the puck in recent action. Last Thursday, senior forward and captain Goldberg chipped in a goal and an assist as sixth seeded PHS topped 11th-seeded Jackson Memorial 8-4 in the opening round of the state Public B tournament. Last Monday, the postseason run for Goldberg and the Tigers came to an end as they fell 6-3 at third-seeded Westfield in the quarterfinals. The Tigers finished the winter with a 14-10-3 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
Keith Goldberg and his teammates on the Princeton High boys’ hockey team came out with fire in their eyes as they hosted Jackson Memorial last Thursday at ProSkate to start play in the state Public B tournament.
Having suffered a disappointing 9-4 loss to Hun on the Mercer County Tournament final six days earlier, PHS was determined to bounce back from that setback.
“We came out a little flat against Hun and we didn’t want to come out flat today,” said Tiger senior forward and captain Goldberg.
“Me being a senior, I didn’t want this to be my last high school game. For the other guys, I think that motivated us to work a little bit harder. Everything we did wrong in the Hun game we wanted to fix and make sure we didn’t do today.”
Goldberg helped make sure that PHS got off to a good start, scoring a goal midway through the first period to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
“I got the puck from Colm Trainor; I was coming one and one and all I did was just pull it back and shot it through the kid’s legs and I saw it trickle into the net,” recalled Goldberg.
That goal helped set the tone as PHS was buzzing in the offensive zone all game long.
“I think it gave us a little more confidence,” said Goldberg. “After I scored, I kept on shooting the puck.”
The sixth-seeded Tigers extended their lead to 4-0 in the second period and then yielded two power play goals as 11th-seeded Jackson narrowed the lead to 4-2. PHS responded with two unanswered goals late in the period and pulled away to an 8-4 triumph.
“Once the third period started and we got one or two quick goals, we knew we had it,” said Goldberg, who ended up with a goal and an assist on the day.
“Jackson Memorial is a great team. I actually play with two kids on the same organization so I know that they are a really good. We knew about them before and we shut them down.”
Although PHS got shut down as it fell 6-3 at third-seeded Westfield in the Public B quarters last Monday, that defeat won’t take away the satisfaction Goldberg has gained from serving as a captain of the Tiger this fall.
“I have known a lot of these guys for a long time coming and playing with my friends definitely helps,” said Goldberg, who plays club hockey for the Jersey Shore Whalers in Howell.
“They know I play at a top level so they listen to me and look towards me on everything.”
PHS head coach Tim Chase was proud of how his guys bounced back from the Hun defeat, seizing momentum early in the game against Jackson Memorial.
“It was important to get off to a good start, just to get flying,” said Chase, who got three goals and two assists from junior star Aidan Trainor in the win with sophomore Austin Micale chipping in a goal and three assists.
“The kids came out hard, they forced the play. When we are physical, we are a good hockey team.”
Chase credited Goldberg with giving the Tigers a spark. “Keith hasn’t been scoring a lot lately because he has been trying to make a nice clean play instead of just firing it right now,” said Chase. “It was nice to see him just let it rip, he has a nice really hard shot.”
It was nice for PHS to pull away at the end. “I think when that second one went in everyone on the bench woke up and said the game is not over and then they responded well, which was nice,” said Chase.
In the loss to Freehold, PHS responded late, scoring three goals down the stretch after entering the third period trailing 4-0. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 14-10-3.
While things didn’t end well for PHS, Goldberg was proud of the resilience the team displayed in making the state quarters.
“It is has been tough, we have had losses where we should have had it,” said Goldberg.
“We have had a lot of injuries. Kids were stepping up. Last year was the same scenario. We lost to Hun in the MCTs and came in all mad. We wanted to prove something.”