November 29, 2017

Featuring Potent Blend of Speed and Skill, PDS Boys’ Hockey Stressing Attacking Style

SHERMAN’S MARCH: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Eric Sherman controls the puck in a game last winter. Senior star defenseman and captain Sherman is primed to produce a big final campaign. PDS starts its 2017-18 season this week by hosting Seton Hall Prep on November 28, St. Joe’s Metuchen on November 30, and North Yarmouth Academy (Maine) on December 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although Scott Bertoli isn’t sure whether his Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team is going to be dominant this winter, he is certain that it will provide plenty of entertainment.

“Our speed is a tremendous asset and that has been really evident through the first three scrimmages and even just watching them practice,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli, who guided the Panthers to a 13-11-2 record last winter as they won the state Prep title.

“The speed and the skill level of this group is as good as I have had here in my 10 years. That is not to say that this will be the best team we have had, but from the skill level and speed perspective, it is a very talented group so it is fun to watch.”

The group has gotten off to a fast start in preseason. “It has gone well; I think we have progressed quicker that I expected us to,” said Bertoli, whose team starts its 2017-18 season this week by hosting Seton Hall Prep on November 28, St. Joe’s Metuchen on November 30, and North Yarmouth Academy (Maine) on December 2.

“I have been really pleased with the way we have played, they have adjusted well. They are taking in everything that we are putting out there for them. There is a certain way we want to play and for the most part, in the first three scrimmages, they have executed beyond my expectations.”

The team’s top line of junior Ty Eastman, senior Ryan Lisk, and junior Coby Auslander figure to execute well at both ends of the ice.

“Ty Eastman, more than any kid on our roster, has made tremendous strides from last year to this year; he is a totally different player,” said Bertoli.

“He is a big, strong kid and plays physical. He is looking really, really good, which is encouraging to me. Lisk and Auslander are good two-way hockey players. My expectation is for them to be our best line, playing against the opposition’s top line and not only shutting them down but still being able to generate offense. They have controlled the game when they have been out there in our three scrimmages.”

Bertoli is confident that his second line of senior Russell Friedman, sophomore Cade McLaughlin and freshman Luke Antonacci will generate plenty of offense.

“Russell is really good, he is really effective and has been involved in a lot of scoring through the first three scrimmages,” said Bertoli.

“He is playing alongside Cade and Luke. That line has looked really good. Luke is an elite level player. Their play to this point has been really encouraging and they, more than that top line, have really produced.”

In a testament to the squad’s depth, PDS should also get  production from its third line of freshman Drew McConaughy, sophomore David Sherman, and senior Brian Frister.

“Drew and David are both Tier 1 kids. One plays with the Rockets, one plays with the Chiefs,” said Bertoli.

“They are good, solid kids who know how to play the game. Because we have depth on our defense, we have got Brian playing the wing on that third line. The kid can skate. He is the fastest kid on the ice and relishes the role of having the freedom of making mistakes in the offensive zone and getting after it on the forecheck. I think he will be effective up there, especially playing with those two young kids.”

The Panthers boast an effective defensive unit, starting with the pair of senior Eric Sherman and freshman Birch Gorman.

“Eric is one of our captains; he looks great, he is a just a two-way hockey player,” said Bertoli.

“He is a little undersized but he is one of the strongest skaters on the ice. He defends well; he is someone that our kids will all look up to. Birch is a big kid, he plays high level Tier 1 hockey. He is a really good talented kid with a tremendous work ethic.”

The pair of senior star Nic Petruolo and junior standout Chip Hamlett figure to provide scoring from the blue line as well as tough defensive play.

“Nic Petrulo is a big, strong kid; he is very good offensively and looks good,” said Bertoli, who will be using sophomore Chris Cecila and sophomore Justin Sherman as his third pair of defensemen.

“Chip, like so many of these guys, is another kid who has really progressed and developed. They look good, they are going to get involved offensively.”

At goalie, senior Boris Gorelenkov is primed to fill the void left by the graduation of four-year starter Logan Kramsky.

“Boris has been good, he is a big kid and I think he is going to relish the role of being the starter,” said Bertoli.

“It is his team, we have talked to him about that a lot, going back to the end of last year. It is his job to lose. He probably only played three or four games last year but he did well.”

Freshman netminder David Lee is showing good potential as he makes the adjustment to high school hockey. “Our backup is David, he is athletic and plays at a high level,” added Bertoli. “He is being challenged by kids that are 17 or 18 years old rather than kids who are 14 so there is a difference there.”

PDS plans to challenge its foes this winter with its speed and skill.

“We are going to play aggressively and we are going to attack all over the ice,” said Bertoli.

“I just feel that against good competition, if we sit back and spend too much time in our d-zone, we could get overwhelmed physically against some of these bigger, older groups. We are going to be on the offensive and attack.”

In Bertoli’s view, the PDS players have been showing an attacking mentality.

“I like the progress that we have made, the kids are motivated,” said Bertoli.

“They all want to play hockey at the next level so as a coach, you can leverage that in practice and push them a little harder and hold them to a little higher standard. It is exciting; you can see the energy on the group.”