February 5, 2020

Senior Star Trainor Showing Sense of Urgency, Skill As PHS Boys’ Hockey Aiming For Big Stretch Drive

BIG TRAIN: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Aidan Trainor controls the puck in recent action. Last week, senior star and captain Trainor tallied three goals and an assist to help PHS overcome a 3-1 third period deficit to defeat Robbinsville 5-3 and clinch the CVC Colonial Division title. PHS, who edged Jackson Liberty 3-2 last Monday night to improve to 14-2-2, faces Paul VI at Mercer County Park on February 5, plays at Southern Regional on February 7 and then starts play in the Mercer County Tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton High boys’ hockey team trailed Robbinsville 3-1 heading into the third period, Aidan Trainor and his teammates weren’t rattled.

“We just knew that we needed to stay positive, we knew that is literally two shots away from being a tie game,” said PHS senior star and captain Trainor. “As long we kept an even keel and kept working hard, we would get there.”

It didn’t take long for PHS to get in the lead as it scored three goals in a span of 2:13 early in the third period to take a 4-3 lead and never looked back on the way to a 5-3 victory in the January 28 contest, clinching the CVC Colonial Division championship in the process.

“We were electric right there, on the bench and everything,” said Trainor, who scored the first goal of the rally and then assisted on the second. “We were going crazy, we were really hyping each other up.”

On the first goal of the period, Trainor combined with younger brother, junior star Colm, who got an assist on the tally.

“It was fun, he is a good player,” said Trainor. “I love playing with him.”

Coming off a 4-1 loss to Middletown South a night earlier, PHS was determined to get back on the winning track.

“It was important; we knew what was on the line tonight, we knew we had a CVC title to claim,” said Trainor.

“It was just bouncing back, last night was a tough loss. We didn’t want to dwell on anything. We just wanted to turn the page and be ready to play today.”

As a four-year starter for the Tigers, Trainor is looking to take things to a higher level in his final campaign with the program.

“This is my last year; it is easy to ignore that and not to think about that when you are a freshman, a sophomore or even a junior,” said Trainor.

“This year, I have a bigger sense of urgency to perform and just do my best to help the team succeed.”

Ending up with three goals and an assist against Robbinsville, Trainor hit the 200-point milestone, a feat that he pointed to as a group effort.

“I have been lucky enough to play on four great teams in  my four years at PHS, we have been really successful,” said Trainor.

“I think overall it has just been a great year for Princeton hockey. Rocco [Salvato] recently had his 100th point. I don’t really like to focus on that stuff. It is cool to think about it after the fact. That is not what I am focused on, I am focused on winning championships right now. It is cool but it is due to my teammates’ hard work. That is not a personal accomplishment, that is a team accomplishment.”

PHS head coach Joe Bensky credited Trainor with inspiring his teammates in the rally.

“Aidan is just a really strong hockey player and everyone looks up to him,” said Bensky.

“We have depth but once you see someone like that playing really well and put one in the the net, the energy really starts picking up.”

That energy resulted in the three-goal outburst that changed the tide of the contest.

“I feel like we score goals in bunches,” said Bensky. “We have struggled to score and once we get one, things pick up.”

Bensky acknowledged that his squad has been working trough some uneven play.

“We have started a lot of games really well in the first, we have really outplayed a lot of the teams,” said Bensky.

“We are just struggling to play consistently for 45 minutes. It is tough to do for any team, it is not just us.”

Coming off the loss to Middletown South, Bensky liked the way his team played in rebounding with the comeback win.

“It was very good, we are very happy that we came back and won this game, otherwise it would have been a little down,” said Bensky.“We clinched the division too; they are very pumped about that too.”

With the Mercer County Tournament on the horizon, Bensky is pumped about his team’s prospects.

“We are trying to get better each and every day; we still need to put together a game where we are playing well for 45 minutes,” said Bensky, whose team edged Jackson Liberty 3-2 last Monday night to improve to 14-2-2 and faces Paul VI at Mercer County Park on February 5, plays at Southern Regional on February 7 and then starts play in the MCT.

“Our team defense has gotten a lot better and that is why we are giving up less goals and less chances. We just weren’t playing good defense as a team before, that was the issue.”

In Trainor’s view, PHS is ready to improve on its recent postseason history which has seen it reach the MCT final the last three years and make two runs to the state Public B semis.

“We just have a couple of things that we need to polish up; we are looking like a good hockey team right now and I am confident in our ability to perform,” said Trainor.

“We have upperclassmen that have been to those moments before. We have been to the threshold and haven’t been able to cross it. We have a very seasoned group and with the mix of all the young kids that we have, I think we can really make a run for it this year.”