February 3, 2021

With Rejuvenated Goalie Miller Coming Up Big, PDS Boys’ Hockey Blanks Mo-Beard in Opener

MILLER TIME: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey goalie Tim Miller tracks the puck against Morristown-Beard last Wednesday. Junior Miller starred in the game, making 24 saves to earn a shutout as PDS prevailed 4-0 over the Crimson in their season opener. In upcoming action, the Panthers host Seton Hall Prep on February 3 and St. Augustine on February 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Tim Miller bulked up by necessity coming into this winter for his junior season with the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team.

Battling through illness last year that saw his weight dip to around 100 pounds, star goalie Miller is a now a hale and hearty 150 pounds.

“It is much better; it was weightlifting, eating, bringing my stamina up and practicing,” said Miller.

“In the third periods, I was always so tired but I was able to finish games out.”

Last Wednesday, Miller displayed that hard-earned stamina, making 24 saves to earn a shutout as PDS defeated Morristown-Beard 4-0 in its season opener.

With Mo-Beard putting on the pressure in the first period, Miller got into a rhythm early in the contest.

“The first shot for me is always a little nerve-wracking but once I keep getting more shots, I get a little more comfortable,” said Miller.

“They had some good chances, I am glad I was able to shut them down. Our defense played well, getting the rebounds out.”

In the second period, the Panthers cashed some chances, tallying three goals in a 3:02 span with senior Gibson Linnehan, junior Michael Sullo, and senior Drew McConaughy finding the back of the net. Junior Adam Teryek added the last goal of the contest in the third period.

“It is so nice for a goalie to not be stressed out like when it is a one-goal game or we are down,” said Miller.

In order to help alleviate stress in the crease area, Miller has been utilizing his experience to help guide a defense that includes freshmen Connor Stratton and Hans Shin along with sophomores Will Brown and Cole Fenton and junior Chris Babecki, a converted forward.

“We have two freshmen and a guy who was a forward, they are doing pretty well,” said Miller.

“They are practicing a lot and that is helping them. It is their first year so I try to tell them communication is key and they are doing pretty well with it.”

In order to close out the shutout against Mo-Beard, the Panther defense had to stand tall.

“Our third period was good, those last few minutes, the shutout was almost ruined but the defense was able to hold them,” said Miller.

“At eight minutes, I was counting down. I was a little nervous that I might let one in but I was glad that it worked out.”

PDS head coach Scott Bertoli praised Miller’s strong work between the pipes.

“You look at him now and he is like a different kid and at a different level,” said Bertoli.

“It got to the point last year where he was our only goalie and the timing of it was him coming right back at the start of the season so there was a lot of uncertainty for him personally. I am glad that he is back and feeling good. The way he is playing is huge. It is good for him and obviously for us. He definitely was the difference today.”

The three-goal outburst in the second period made a big difference for the Panthers.

“We have some pretty talented guys in Gibby [Linnehan], Drew [McConaughy], [Michael] Sullo, and [Adam] Teryek; they have a really good skill set, they are competitive,” said Bertoli.

“Those kids found ways to find the back of the net in key situations and their top guys didn’t convert. Offensively we did some really good things. If we are going to have success this year, we can’t rely on one or two guys when you are playing the competition that we are playing.”

Bertoli liked the way his young defensive unit stepped up against the Crimson.

“Both Hans and Connor out there on a 5-on-3 as freshmen, those two are pretty dynamic as far as their ability to just read the play and composure,” said Bertoli.

“They are a year or two ahead of other guys their age. The reality is that they are the two kids that will play the most minutes in the most situations for us.”

While PDS produced some dynamic moments in the opener, Bertoli sees plenty of room for improvement.

“I thought there were some things that were not so much structural but more just habit-wise,” said Bertoli.

“To me, it is things like circling and not finishing hits, taking the easy way out. If you want to be a good hockey player at any level, what allows you to accelerate and stay on that trajectory towards where these kids ultimately want to get to is just little things. You do work through them and we talk about them on film.”

Bertoli is confident that his players will raise the level of their play.

“The whole idea of this is to get better on a daily basis and to improve, individually and collectively,” said Bertoli, whose team is slated to host Seton Hall Prep on February 3 and St. Augustine on February 8.

“At the end of the day, I appreciate good hockey and I want our kids to play good hockey. Some of the things I saw tonight were a step away from that. I want them to enjoy the moment because they beat a pretty good hockey team today. At the end of the day, I think that is all that matters.”

Miller, for his part, appreciated the chance to finally get a game in the 2021 season.

“I was so stoked, our past five games have got canceled so it was nice to play tonight,” said Miller.

“This could have been our last game so I am glad we were able to finish it out with a win. Hopefully it won’t end.”