December 25, 2019

With Dynamic Sullo Making Big Impact, PDS Boys’ Hockey Edges Hun 4-3 in OT

OPEN MIKE: Princeton Day School boys’ ice hockey player Michael Sullo controls the puck in recent action. Last Wednesday, sophomore forward Sullo had a goal and two assists to help PDS edge Hun 4-3 in overtime. Last weekend, PDS participated in the Barber Tournament at the St. Mark’s School (Mass.) where it went 0-3. In upcoming action, PDS, now 3-4, hosts its annual Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational from January 4-5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Michael Sullo was one of the smallest players on the ice for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team as it hosted the Hun School last Wednesday.

But the wiry sophomore transfer ended up making a huge impact on the game, scoring the first goal and then assisting on the final two goals as PDS edged Hun 4-3 in overtime.

For Sullo, the first taste of the rivalry against local foe Hun was sweet. “All of the boys were fired up to get out here; it is always a good game from what I have heard,” said Sullo. “It was my first time around; it was the most fun I have had in a game in a while.”

Sullo tallied the first goal of the contest, finding the back of the net early in the second period.

I saw Luke [Antonacci] circling up top,” recalled Sullo. “He just put one on net, it popped out and I put it in.”

PDS had leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but found itself trailing 3-2 early in the third period.

“I think we knew the whole time that we were going to power through with the win if we just kept playing the way we were playing,” said Sullo. “We knew we were going to get some bounces as long as we stick with it.”

With just under 7:00 left in regulation, Sullo helped set up the game-tying goal with a feed to sophomore Chris Babecki.

“It was 3-on-1 and I saw Chris coming in; I figured I would buy some time and cut to the middle,” said Sullo. “I saw Chris driving outside and I just dished it over.”

The contest went into overtime and Sullo made a dish to junior star Birch Gorman that led to the winning goal by senior David Sherman on a top-shelf blast with 3:50 left in the extra session.

“I knew we had to settle it down, one of my attributes is just slowing it down and setting the tempo,” said Sullo

“I just swung around the net there and dropped it to Birch and he ripped it out to Sherm. It was a good play all around.”

In reflecting on the win, PDS head coach Scott Bertoli credited both teams with coming up with good play.

“I was just proud of the fact that we were in complete control of that game, other than the scoreboard,” said Bertoli.

“I was concerned when we didn’t get a goal in the first and then every time we would score and seemingly continue to control, they were opportunistic and it was just like that, bang, goal for them. They find opportunities to jump guys at the right time. Their power play is strong and their goaltending is outstanding.”

Bertoli was proud of the resilience the Panthers displayed in overcoming the third period deficit.

“They get up 3-2 and I was thinking this just could put us in the panic mode and we really didn’t,” said Bertoli.

“We stuck to what was working. We didn’t take the unnecessary chances, especially when we got down. At the end of the day, it was just a matter of whether we were going to be able to break through on them and that kid [Hun goalie Jackson Cole].”

Breaking through with the game-winner required some skillful play.  “It was a great stretch pass by Birch and for David, it was just get a touch of separation and beat a kid that made 50 saves tonight,” said Bertoli, whose team outshot Hun 53-16. “I think we deserved to win the game based how much we controlled it and the quality chances we had.”

The addition of Sullo has given the Panthers another quality offensive threat.

“I have seen him play and dominate at his own level, so it is nice to see a lot of that translated into play against older kids and play with older kids,” said Bertoli.  “He has really endeared himself to our players and our coaching staff. He is a great kid and he is dynamic. He is always on the puck.”

With PDS looking forward to hosting its annual Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational from January 4-5, getting the win over Hun was a nice confidence builder.

“From a league perspective, it would have been pretty frustrating to play as well as we did, controlling the play, outshooting them, and not get a result,” said Bertoli, whose team competed in the Barber Tournament at St. Mark’s (Mass.) last weekend and went 0-3, falling 3-0 to Kents Hill School (Maine) 4-2 to Portsmouth Abbey (R.I.), and 3-0 to Vermont Academy (Vt.), to move to 3-4. “I was encouraged by that, it was good.”

Sullo, for his part, is enjoying an encouraging start to his PDS career.

“I have been playing triple A hockey the last few years so I know what it is like,” said Sullo. “These are definitely bigger guys, you have to get used to the tempo. I dialed right into it and I am having a ton of fun. I love these guys.”