Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 3
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
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TWO-WAY TRAFFIC: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey star Savannah Hecker surveys the ice in recent action. The senior defenseman and co-captain has been providing superb two-way play and leadership for PDS this winter. Last Thursday, Hecker tallied two goals and two assists to help the Panthers top local rival Princeton High 8-5. PDS, now 9-1, hosts powerful Morristown-Beard on January 22 and Shady Side (Pa.) on January 24.

Hecker Providing Leadership, Two-Way Play, As PDS Girls’ Hockey Produces Hot 9-1 Start

Bill Alden

Savannah Hecker has embraced the extra responsibility that comes with being a senior co-captain for the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team.

“I feel like I should step up more,” said Hecker. “I should be a big leader on and off the ice. My teammates know they can come to talk to me if they need help with anything.”

Last Thursday, the senior defenseman stepped up on both ends of the ice as PDS topped arch rival Princeton High 8-5.

Offensively, Hecker helped trigger the Panther attack, scoring two goals and getting two assists. On defense, Hecker directed traffic around the crease area as PDS held off a late PHS charge.

Hecker prides herself on her two-way excellence. “Every practice, we work on shooting and passing,” said Hecker.

“I worked on it over the summer and in the fall. I think it is really good that we are crashing the net now. On defense, I feel like I need to vocalize everything. I think it’s good being vocal and helping everyone out.”

The Panthers made a loud statement against PHS as they jumped out to a 5-1 lead after one period.

“I think it was really good that we came out with a good start,” said Hecker, noting that PDS fell behind PHS 4-1 before rallying for a 7-6 win when the teams met in December in the PDS Invitational.

“In the tournament game, we knew it was going to be close and they came out so much stronger than us. It was really good that we came out stronger than them this time.”

PDS has come out very strong this winter, winning nine of its first 10 games after going 10-10 last season.

Hecker, though, isn’t surprised by the team’s torrid play so far this winter.

“I think from day one, Kat [PDS head coach Kat Smithson] told us that if we focus, we could do really well,” said Hecker.

“I think that’s exactly what we have been doing; we are focusing more and trying to be as strong as we can be. We have workouts before or after every practice. It is helping because everyone is getting faster and stronger.”

PDS head coach Smithson certainly liked her team’s strong start in the PHS game.

“I think the girls were psyched from the very start of the day,” said Smithson.

“I saw a few of them this morning and they were focused on the game. From the very start, we were so focused and so pumped up. We just went at them very hard with no reservations. We didn’t hold back.”

Smithson has no reservations about the contribution she is getting from Hecker.

“Savannah has become a leader among our defensemen,” asserted Smithson.

“She is really vocal and she has become so much more confident this year. That’s why she is driving up the ice this year. I think she has really filled her gaps from last year and she is really connecting.”

In the win over PHS, sophomore Megan Ofner and freshman Kat So were connecting as they made big plays all over the ice.

“We switched some things up which I think helped; we moved Kat up as forward and we had Megan on defense some of the time,” explained Smithson, who got three goals from Courtland Lackey in the victory over PDS with Zeeza Cole, Carly O’Brien, and Ofner chipping in one apiece.

“Both of those players are versatile for us. Kat is a great playmaker. We can use Megan on the penalty kill on defense and as a forward. I think everybody just played two-way hockey tonight.”

The Panthers have been playing good hockey just about every night as they have produced their 9-1 start.

“We are exceeding all expectations,” asserted Smithson, whose team hosts powerful Morristown-Beard on January 22 and Shady Side (Pa.) on January 24.

“I think what is different about this team is that they are so competitively driven. It seems like they are really blossoming and they are taking advantage of the opportunities that the school has provided them.”

A strong chemistry has blossomed among the Panther players as the wins have piled up.

“There is definitely a special bond between everybody,” added Smithson.

“I think the girls are really supportive of each other and they have really made a commitment to this program. It seems to be really producing good hockey on the ice.”

In Hecker’s view, the PDS players have formed a support network for each other.

“Last year, everyone was tightly knit but this year it is even more so and I think it is even better,” said Hecker, whose co-captain is classmate Stephanie Sydlo.

“We are friends on and off the ice. We all help each other; it’s really nice. We are really working hard and trying to do our best.”

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