December 21, 2016

With Serafin Starring at Both Ends of the Ice, PDS Girls’ Hockey Wins Title at Invitational

IN CONTROL: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Kristi Serafin controls the puck in recent action. Last weekend, senior captain and star defenseman Serafin starred as PDS won its Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational. On Friday, Serafin tallied a goal and two assists to help PDS defeat Summit 13-4 in an opening round game. A day later, Serafin chipped in two assists as the Panthers topped Rye Country Day (N.Y.) 6-1 in the championship game. PDS, now 5-1, is next in action when it hosts Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) on January 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kristi Serafin and her teammates on the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team were determined to give a little more at both ends of the ice as they hosted Rye Country Day (N.Y.) in the championship game of the Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational.

With sophomore Flynn Gorman moving to goalie from forward to fill in for sidelined senior star netminder Annika Asplundh, PDS was looking to make life easier for the neophyte in the net.

“We were trying to get a lot more shots on net just to help her out so if they score, it doesn’t get in her head,” said senior defenseman and co-captain Serafin, who tallied a goal and two assists to help the Panthers top Summit 13-4 in the opening round of the tournament on Friday to earn a shot for the title.

“Also defensively in front of the net it was just protect her because she is not used to being in that position.”

Scoring three unanswered goals the first period put PDS in a very good position.

“In the beginning we started off kind of crazy but after having that lead, it settled down a little,” said Serafin.

“It gave us the confidence we needed to be able to say we can do this. I think it was really important.”

Serafin set up the second goal as she fired a blast from the point that was directed into the net by sophomore Julie Patterson.

“It was good, it was a team effort,” recalled Serafin, reflecting on the tally. “I got a really nice pass and got my shot off and Julie tipped it in so it was good all around.”

After the teams each scored one goal in the second period, Serafin helped seal the deal for the Panthers early in the third as she threaded a pass into the crease that was banged home by freshman standout Gia Massari. “That was pretty incredible, Gia Massari is definitely a good player,” said Serafin. “She gives us a lift, she really stepped up.”

PDS cruised from there, winning 6-1 to earn its first title at the Invitational since 2013.

“Being a senior, it is definitely special for me,” said Serafin, reflecting on winning the championship. “I know it is special for the other girls, even the freshmen, being a part of that and representing the school that way. I see it as a step forward and a confidence builder as we move along.”

It has been special for Serafin to serve as the captain of this year’s team along with classmate and fellow defenseman Kiely French.

“It is definitely an honor and I am really excited to share that with Kiely French,” added Serafin.

“We have been working hard and even though we are wearing the C we really work hard with Julie David, Allison Klei, and Annika. It is a good senior group so I am really lucky.”

In Serafin’s view, the whole squad is showing a good work ethic. “Everyone has been coming to practice and working really hard,” said Serafin. “Even on the bench, everybody is lifting each other up.”

PDS head coach Lorna Cook viewed the win over Rye as an uplifting performance.

“We have tried to use it as a learning experience this year; adversity is not a bad thing if you turn it into a positive and make it an opportunity to grow,” said Cook, reflecting on playing without Asplundh in goal.

“We looked at it as now we have to be more careful and play a lot smarter and the decision making has to be more defensive-minded for that. Today, I couldn’t be happier with how they played.”

The Panthers played well from the opening face-off on Sunday. “They came out hard, they were moving the puck with each other right away,” said Cook.

“Yesterday we were very jittery with the puck, we were giving it away a lot on our own. Today, they focused on keeping control. Gia putting in that first goal got momentum going in our favor.”

The play of the precocious Massari, who scored four goals in the title game, created momentum for PDS.

“Gia gives everything she has and I think she sets an example there but then she is also so skilled and so smart,” said Cook.

“She is very selfless on the ice too, she is always looking to make the right play so I think, especially as a freshman, she gives everyone that confidence having a player who is just giving it everything. She has a lot of composure too and even though she is only a freshman, she has a mature way about her.”

In Cook’s view, Serafin displayed maturity at both ends of the ice against Rye.

“Kristi went down and made two saves, just going down on shots to block them and I think that sets the tone too for everybody,” said Cook.

“You do whatever you can to get into the shooting lanes; that gives Flynn back in goal some reassurance too that I just have to do what I can here but everyone is working hard in front of me. With the offense, she did a great job today of picking her moments. A lot of it was giving good passes to our forwards who did a pretty good job in the neutral zone of getting open and getting their feet moving.”

Winning the Rulon-Miller title sets a good tone for the Panthers heading into the holidays.

“It was one of the goals for us a team and a lot of the players; we had a disappointing loss in it last year where we actually outplayed the other team but we just couldn’t put the puck in the net,” said Cook.

“To come out today with that kind of fire to just know we are missing our goalie but you know that we are going to play our team game. Not having Annika in net only affects the shots against, it doesn’t change the way that we can control play everywhere else.”

The play of sophomore Gorman in goal proved to be a pleasant surprise for PDS.

“Flynn did awesome; yesterday was hard on her because I think we just didn’t play that well as a team in front of her,” said Cook of Gorman who was the PDS recipient of the tournament’s Christopher Reeve ’70 Sportsmanship Award.

“I think we kind of left her out too dry a little bit. Everything just came together for everybody today but she stood in there. She made some huge saves when she had to. She has learned to keep her stick on the ice and that is really the main thing, trying to get square with puck.”

With PDS, now 5-1, returning to action when it hosts Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) on January 4, Cook is looking for her players to keep playing well.

“Today, to have it all come together shows them what they can do and how that standard is set,” said Cook.

“So when we move move forward from the break, they know how well they can play. They are going to hold themselves to it when they don’t play as hard as they did today. They will know it because we have seen what you can do.”

Serafin, for her part, is confident that the Panthers will live up to that standard as they head into the 2017 portion of their schedule.

“We need to keep working really hard in practice and stay unified as a team,” said Serafin.

“I know that is going to be huge for us moving into these tougher games, keeping our heads right. I am just really looking for this team to win, we can definitely compete against Hill and Shady Side. I know we have a good shot. It is just coming back after break and refocusing. We know we can definitely do it.”