January 1, 2020

Playing for Both PHS Boys’ and Girls’ Hockey, Zammit Getting the Most Out of Senior Season

DOUBLE DUTY: Princeton High hockey player Victoria Zammit controls the puck in a game last season. Senior forward Zammit has been doing double duty this winter, playing for both the PHS boys’ and girls’ hockey teams. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was already a busy day for Victoria Zammit by the time she arrived at Baker Rink to play for the Princeton High girls’ hockey team when it hosted Summit in mid-December.

“I was in the boys’ game against Hopewell, this was a doubleheader,” said PHS senior forward Zammit, who is culminating her high school career by playing for both programs this winter.

“I was pretty tired; I downed a Red Bull in the car on the way here. The boys was a good warmup.”

In her nightcap with the girls, Zammit warmed to the challenge, tallying four goals and two assists as PHS fell 12-6 to Summit in the December 17 contest.

“I try to look at the positive aspects; we did put in six goals, so that is always a plus,” said Zammit.

“Our goalies faced a ton of shots. This team is very new; I think I am the only club player.”

Having been a four-year starter and three-year captain for the girls’ team, Zammit has invested a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the program. 

“It is really emotional; I have spent so much time on this team, getting equipment for all of the new girls and training them in the morning,” said Zammit.

“Coach [Christian] Herzog and I have worked together to optimize our time. We only have an hour in the mornings, two to three times a week, so it is not much ice time. We have tried to split off into skill levels.”

After going winless in varsity games last winter, the Tigers broke through with a 5-4 victory over Holton Arms (Md.) on December 13.

“That was a very big win for us, it was our first win,” said Zammit, who tallied three goals in the triumph. “It is like all of the positives that I am trying to take out of this experience, building a family with my teammates.”

In helping the girls build a happy family feeling, Zammit focuses on being upbeat no matter what happens on the ice.

“For me, it is a mental thing; it is not even about the hockey any more,” said Zammit.

“It is making sure that I stay positive for all of these girls and not to lash out at them if they don’t go for the puck. That is the biggest thing for me, my mental state.”

As for joining the boys’ squad this winter, Zammit made the move to keep her skills sharp during a hiatus from travel hockey.

“This year I am on a more competitive club team,” said Zammit, who plays for the New Jersey Colonials Tier 1 program.

“Because my club teammates are mostly from Lawrenceville, we decided to do a half season where we pause during the high school season and then start back up again for nationals. I figured that the boys’ team was good for my skills and a good way for me to keep my speed up.”

Zammit has been quickly welcomed by her male coaches and teammates. “The coaches [Joe Bensky and Matt Strober] are so supportive,” said Zammit.

“The boys and I are very close friends. I am very fortunate because my boys’ team is very protective of me. Once I got crosschecked in the back by a kid and Aidan Trainor went after him. They have my back, that is a really good thing to have.”

Having that support is critical when Zammit is on the ice with the boys as it is a more physical game.

“It is intense. I have to keep my head up and be alert all of the time,” said Zammit.

“Here with the girls, I am more laid back and working on my stick-handling or working on my slap shot. In the boys’ games, I have to put everything together and be careful.”

One of the best things about being on the boys’ team for Zammit is getting the chance to sake with her younger brother, sophomore forward John Zammit.

“Playing with my brother is really awesome,” said Zammit. “We used to play when we were younger so this is like going down memory lane. It is our last year to do that.”

As Zammit looks ahead to the rest of the girls’ season, she is looking to make some special memories.

“I think for us, wins are not a measure of our success,” said Zammit, who scored the lone goal for PHS as it fell 9-1 to Rye Country Day (N.Y.) on December 19 to move to 1-4 and will start 2020 action by playing at Princeton Day School on January 8.

“It is more about our improvement and sticking together and doing one good breakout. That is one thing, OK, and then forecheck, that is another thing. It is think of the positives and try to ignore the negatives to keep our spirits up all season.”