January 20, 2021

PHS Girls’ Hockey Primed for 2021 Campaign, Relishing the Opportunity to Get Back On the Ice

GAINING CONTROL: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Catie Samaan controls the puck in a game last winter. Sophomore standout Samaan figures to be a key performer for the Tigers this season. PHS opens its 2021 campaign by playing at Princeton Day School on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last winter, the Princeton High girls’ hockey team relied on senior star Victoria Zammit to control the tempo at both ends of the ice.

“Victoria was great because she could do everything herself to keep it in our other zone and give the defense a break,” said PHS head coach Christian Herzog of Zammit who tallied 45 points on 34 goals and 11 assists to help the Tigers go 4-14.

“She could also play defense and could be helpful there as long as she had the green light to rush the puck when she had the opportunity.”

With Zammit having graduated, Herzog is looking for sophomore Catie Samaan and junior Grace Rebak to step up this winter.

“Catie and Grace are going to have to be iron women and log a ton of time and be situational specific forwards to be on the power play and things like that,” said Herzog, whose team opens its 2021 campaign by playing at Princeton Day School on January 21.

“In the drills that we have been doing, I have Catie and Grace do mostly defense. They are the two strongest players on the team, they take initiative. They are going to have to work a lot of give and go together. They have to make some opportunities happen, especially offensively. Samaan has a strong head for hockey and Rebak is calm on the ice.”

Herzog is looking for some offensive production from junior Tessa Solvibile, junior Defne Arsoy, junior Kelsey Riley, junior Carly Ruzich, and senior Hailey Hawes.

“Tessa has improved, her hands seem to have gotten better shot-wise,” said Herzog. “Defne is returning. Kelsey Riley will definitely be playing forward and Carly is back. Hailey is one of the brand new girls who have come out.”

At goalie, junior Jadie Tome appears to be coming into her own.

“Jadie made some progress last season, she has the right attitude,” said Herzog.  “She is never complaining and is willing to work hard. She takes direction well. Her father works with her quite a bit.”

With PHS unable to practice at Hobey Baker Rink on the Princeton University campus as in past years, Herzog has been scrambling to get the team early morning practice slots at the Ice Land Rink in Hamilton.

“To put it simply, my whole goal of this after setting everything up and going through the first round of this is to give the girls some opportunity to play ice hockey,” said Herzog.

“We all agree it is not going to be an ideal season. We have to roll with the punches and be flexible and do the best that we can to give them an opportunity to play the sport.”

While things may not be ideal, so far it appears that the PHS players are relishing the opportunity to be on the ice.

“It is a break from the Zoom, it is working positively from a mental standpoint,” said Herzog.

“The family won’t let you go out. You are practicing social distancing and you can’t carpool with this person. They are happy to be getting out of the house, taking a break from life.”