January 20, 2016

PHS Boys’ Hockey Earns 5-5 Tie at South Brunswick As Callaway, McDonald Partnership Makes Difference


LEADING THE WAY: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Tooker Callaway powers past a foe in recent action. Last Friday, junior defenseman and assistant captain Callaway scored two third period goals to help PHS earn a 5-5 tie at South Brunswick. The Little Tigers, who moved to 7-4-3 with the tie, are slated to play Notre Dame on January 22 and Robbinsville on January 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Tooker Callaway and Eamonn McDonald are the Lennon and McCartney of the Princeton High boys’ hockey team when it comes to producing hits on the blue line.

The junior stars were paired together on defense from their freshman year at PHS, contributing right from the start with their physical and skilled play.

Their partnership on the ice actually started well before they arrived at high school.

“We have been playing together since we were seven in youth organizations,” said Callaway.

“It is nice to play in high school with him. He is a really good player and he moves the puck well. There is definitely a good vibe coming from each other, we always know where we are.”

Last Friday at South Brunswick, the pair was very good, coming up big in the third period as the Little Tigers pulled out a 5-5 tie. With PHS trailing 3-2 coming into third period, McDonald scored on a one-timer to knot the game with 13:05 remaining in regulation. Minutes later, Callaway found the back of the net to put the Little Tigers up 4-3. South Brunswick responded with two unanswered goals to take a 5-4 lead. Callaway then came through with 1:59 left, scoring to make it 5-5 with the final salvo of the contest.

Callaway pointed to McDonald’s goal as a turning point for the Little Tigers

“That was clutch; that was a good effort,” said Callaway, reflecting on the tie which left PHS with a 7-4-3 record.

McDonald sensed that his score was coming. “In the first period I took a couple of shots and missed them,” said McDonald. “I really thought I would get one today. I got one last game and I feel like I am in the groove.”

For Callaway, getting the next goal was a product of being in the right place at the right time.

“I saw Brendon [McCormick] in the corner with the puck and he looked out with it and I tired to sneak down and he got it right on my tape,” recalled Callaway. “I just kind of slid in there.”

While PHS squandered the 4-3 lead as South Brunswick scored two goals in a one-minute span to take a 5-4 lead with 6:44 remaining in regulation, McDonald was confident that the Little Tigers wouldn’t fold.

“When we went down, I was a little mad at myself,” said McDonald. “I made a couple of mistakes but I thought we could get a goal back and tie it up.”

In notching the tying goal, Callaway was set up once again by McCormick.

“Brendon is a great playmaker all around the ice,” said Callaway. “He always has his head up and he is always moving the puck.”

In McDonald’s view, Callaway’s heads up play was no surprise. “Playing with Tooker is great, he is one of my good friends and I am so used to playing with him,” said McDonald. “On and off the ice, he is a great person to be around.”

Due to Callaway’s personality and leadership, he was chosen to be an assistant captain for PHS.

“Being assistant captain is a big job, I try to lead by example on and off the ice,” said Callaway, whose classmate, McCormick, is the team captain with senior Nathan Drezner serving as the other assistant captain.

“I think we do a good job of that. We all know what we need to do as a team, it really helps. It makes life easy, the boys have been great.”

PHS head coach Terence Miller lauded the pair of Callaway and McDonald for helping the Little Tigers earn the tie.

“The last three goals were scored by defensemen so it is always nice to get some scoring from your back end,” said Miller.

“They are inseparable. They have a good chemistry and they know each other well. I think Tooker and Eamonn can read off each other on the ice.”

Miller acknowledged that PHS started a little bit slowly against South Brunswick as it trailed 2-0 after the first period.

“The first period was probably our worst period of the season, I thought,” said Miller. “We really came out flat. The bigger ice surface may have had a little to do with it, they really spread us out a lot.”

Showing its character over the last two periods, PHS produced a big finish.

“We came back which is nice,” said Miller. “We would have liked to hold the lead but then being able to come back and get the point was big. The fact that you are down and can get that late goal to tie it was important.”

Picking up three assists in the third period, McCormick triggered the comeback.

“Brendon is always money, he brings it every single day,” said Miller. “Coming off his 100th career point, he is consistent.”

Miller is looking for his team to keep bringing it with the county and state tournaments around the corner.

“We are coming down the homestretch here so we are looking to continue to build on this,” said Miller, whose team is slated to play Notre Dame on January 22 and Robbinsville on January 26. “We are still finding ourselves, we are seeing progress.”

In Callaway’s view, the Little Tigers need to come out and play hard every night.

“Going forward, we are going to take it one game at a time and try to get a win in every one,” said Callaway. “We just need to put forth our best effort, that is all we can really ask from ourselves.”

McDonald, for his part, believes that the team’s veterans have to do their best to set the tone.

“The upperclassmen, the juniors and seniors, really need to step up, take charge, and start leading the team,” said McDonald.