November 28, 2018

Despite Suffering Big Losses to Graduation, PDS Boys’ Hockey Should Remain Formidable

BLUE CHIPPER: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Chip Hamlett handles the puck last season. Senior defenseman Hamlett will be spearheading the PDS defensive unit this winter. The Panthers get their 2018-19 campaign underway this week by hosting St. Joe’s Prep on November 27, Gloucester Catholic on November 29, and Morristown-Beard on December 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team boasts some high-quality players, it is a little thin in numbers compared to past years.

“There is plenty of returning, experienced talent; I expect results, I expect us to play well and to do a lot of things we have done well over the years,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli, who guided the Panthers to a 17-8 record last year and a spot in the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) final.

“We graduated seven and we lost Cade McLaughlin, who went to Kent School. We are definitely not as deep as we have been in the past, especially last year.”

Two of the team’s most talented players are senior forwards Coby Auslander and Ty Eastman.

“Coby and Ty had phenomenal junior years; Coby led the MAHL  (Mid-Atlantic Hockey League) in scoring and Ty was third,” said Bertoli. “They were all-league selections. I expect those two to be dominant along with whoever we decide to play with them.”

A trio of sophomores Luck Antonacci, Drew McConaughy, and David Sherman are all options to play with Auslander and Eastman.

“Luke has unbelievable talent and he is a year older, so I expect big things from him,” said Bertoli.

“Drew centered our third line last year as a freshman; he is going to bounce back and forth depending on how we line things up between our second and third line. David could play with Ty and Coby as well.”

Juniors Alex Allen and Stephan Gorelenkov give the Panthers some bulk in the crease area.

“We have a new junior in Alex; he adds an element we really haven’t had much of in the past,” said Bertoli.

“He is a big, strong kid who can shoot the puck. He has a good skill level, so once he gets comfortable I expect him to be an impact kid for us. Stephan was hurt the majority of last year. He is much better and he has a huge body.”

On defense, senior Chip Hamlett, sophomore Birch Gorman, and junior Chris Cicela will lead the way.

“Chip was first-team all-league last year, the kid is outstanding and he has only gotten better,” said Bertoli. “We have Birch back and I have seen improvement in his game and with Chris too. Those three are going to see a ton of time in all situations.”

The pair of sophomore Justin Sherman and freshman Trevor Mackles should also see time in defense.

“Justin played sparingly last year because we had five very good defensemen in front of him,” said Bertoli. “He is going to see minutes. Trevor is a high-end talent. He will need to adjust physically.”

At goalie, sophomore David Lee and junior transfer Jeremy Siegel will share duties in the early going.

“David was a young, small kid last year; he is talented and he has grown and filled out,” said Bertoli.

“We brought in Jeremy, who played on the Mercer Chiefs 15 team that went to nationals. He is a very talented kid. He reminds me a lot of Logan Kramsky; by goalie standards, he is probably a little bit undersized but he is athletic. I am really comfortable with where we are. We will start out splitting time. I want to give both of them opportunities.”

Bertoli is looking for some of his supporting players to seize opportunity. “I am pretty confident that Ty, Coby, and Luke are going to generate and provide offense for us; I would guess that our power play will be very good and efficient,” said Bertoli.

“It is really going to be that secondary scoring and depth, bringing a couple those younger kids along. If we can find ways to put these guys in position to succeed, then we will set ourselves up to have success. It is the same thing on the back end. I am confident with our top three, but it is finding that fourth and fifth and getting one or two of them to play minutes and be an effective partner for one of the top three.”

As the Panthers start their 2018-19 campaign this week by hosting St. Joe’s Prep on November 27, Gloucester Catholic on November 29, and Morristown-Beard on December 3, Bertoli is cautiously optimistic.

“What it is all going to mean at the end, I don’t know,” said Bertoli. “I think we have enough pieces to play some really good hockey and give ourselves opportunities to win games against some really good competition this year.”