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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

FRONT MAN: Princeton Day School forward Will Denise, right, fires the puck past a Holy Ghost defender in PDS' 6-1 win last Friday. Denise has 11 points on six goals and five assists so far this season for the 6-2 Panthers.
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Denise's Crafty Play Up Front Sparking PDS Boys' Ice Hockey

By Bill Alden

Will Denise may only be a junior but he feels like the old hand up front for the Princeton Day School boys' hockey team.

The three-year starter and MVP of last year's state Prep B state champions feels like the voice of experience on the Panthers' first line where he plays with classmate Keith Nelson and freshman Justin Mimmo.

"I played with seniors last year so I was the young guy," said Denise after scoring two goals in PDS' 6-1 win over Holy Ghost last Friday. "Now I'm the older guy and that's a good feeling. I like being the leader."

Denise's craftiness and skill has the line clicking as Mimmo and Nelson also scored two goals apiece in the win on Friday. Last Monday in the Panthers' 2-0 win over public school power Bergen Catholic, the trio was at it again as Nelson and Denise scored the PDS goals with Nelson and Mimmo picking up assists.

"Our line works really well together," explained Denise, who has six goals and five assists so far this season. "With Keith all I have to do is put the puck near him. The young guy Mimmo is pulling his weight."

PDS head coach Chris Barcless believes the whole squad is pulling its weight. "We had practice on New Year's Day and the guys showed some commitment," said Barcless. "Our practices over the break are fun because the alums come back and skate with us. The team scrimmages with the alumni and have a good time. That helps us with moving the puck a little bit."

Barcless, whose team finished second in the competitive Barber Tournament in Massachusetts in the weekend before Christmas relishes challenging competition from any quarter. "That tournament definitely helped us," added Barcless, referring to the Barber event. "We're always searching for the best competition."

While the Panthers may not always rise to the occasion, Barcless believes it steels his team over the long haul. "We are the type of team that can beat an average public school like Cranford by a goal," explained the seventh-year head coach, whose 6-2 club plays at Shady Side Academy on January 9 and at Upper Saint Clair on January 10.

"Then we can go out and beat a team that's ten times better than that by four goals. So anybody can beat us on a given day but the same thing goes for us. We can beat anyone on a given day."

Denise, for his part, is determined to make sure that PDS picks up as many wins as possible as it goes for its seventh straight state Prep B title.

"This is my 13th year at this school, it's fun to go out and try to get wins for PDS," asserted Denise. "I think I'm playing pretty well but it really doesn't matter who scores or gets the credit."

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