January 24, 2018

Joyce Enjoys Special Senior Night As PHS Boys’ Hockey Tops WW-P

JOYFUL NIGHT: Princeton High boys’ hockey Justin Joyce brings the puck up the ice in a recent game. Last Saturday evening, senior star and co-captain Joyce tallied a goal to help PHS defeat WW-P 9-2 at Baker Rink as the program held its annual Senior Night celebration. The Little Tigers, who defeated Hopewell Valley 8-2 last Monday to improve to 11-5-2, play at Bishop Eustace on January 24 and then face Robbinsville on January 26 at the Mercer Skating Center. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Justin Joyce grinned broadly as his family gathered with him on the ice at Baker Rink last Saturday evening when the Princeton High boys’ hockey team held its annual Senior Night celebration.

“It has been great, just looking back on everything I have done in high school hockey and just be able to recognize that,” said senior forward and co-captain Joyce. “My parents supported me the whole way.”

In the second period of the game against WW-P, Joyce enjoyed a great moment as he scored a goal to put PHS ahead 2-1.

“I just drove the net hard,” recalled Joyce. “The goalie was giving up a lot of rebounds and so I drove far post and it popped out. I had a wide open net.”

Minutes later, Joyce’s classmate and co-captain, Max Garlock, found the back of the net as the Little Tigers extended their lead to 3-1.

“We have been playing together for a while,” said Joyce. “It is really great to have him by my side this year.”

Joyce has enjoyed serving as team captain along with Garlock. “I definitely had to step up and take a leadership role for the team, especially with the freshmen,” said Joyce. “I had to tell them what to do and how to blend into the environment of high school and get everybody ready for games.”

It took a little while to get going in the game against WW-P as the foes were knotted in a 1-1 tie heading into the second period.

“We have been having that problem lately, we have been trying to change things up in the locker room before the game to try to get everybody energetic for the games,” said Joyce, who tallied two goals and an assist last Monday to help PHS defeat Hopewell Valley 8-2 and improve to 11-5-2.

PHS showed plenty of energy in the third period against WW-P, tallying five unanswered goals to turn the game into a rout.

“We started putting in the players that didn’t play as much to get them some ice time,” said Joyce, reflecting on how the Little Tigers closed out the contest.

PHS head coach Tim Chase was happy to see his team pull away. “It was good. I think in the third period we stepped up and took over the game,” said Chase. “I think we should be doing that from the get-go. It was nice to see us finally get it up and going.”

It was nice for Joyce and Garlock to tally crucial goals on their Senior Night “I think for us to go anywhere in the end in the states, we need those guys rolling,” said Chase. “They are a big part of the team. If they are rolling, everyone else is going to feed off of that.”

In Chase’s view, the team’s senior group that also includes defenseman Luke O’Shea, who tallied a goal in the win over WW-P, has set a positive tone.

“They all like them, they all look to them for leadership in the locker room and on the ice,” said Chase, who is in his first season guiding the program. “I haven’t been here all four years but I have been around enough to know they all respect them and appreciate the time they have put into the program.”

With PHS playing at Bishop Eustace on January 24 and then facing Robbinsville on January 26 at the Mercer Skating Center as it tunes up for postseason play, Chase would like to see some tougher play at the defensive end from his team.

“I think we have enough offense to challenge, I don’t need to worry so much about that,” said Chase. “We just need to clean up and play hard in our zone, not just the offensive zone.”

Noting that PHS advanced to the state Public A semifinals and the Mercer County Tournament final last season, Joyce is confident that the Little Tigers can clean up down the stretch.

“We have the skill and the talent, we just have to figure out how to put it all together on the ice and play as a team,” said Joyce.

“A lot of times we try to do stuff individually in the zone. If we work together as a team, we will be unstoppable.”