July 14, 2021

Former PDS Boys’ Hockey Star Colton Makes History, Scoring Clincher as Tampa Bay Wins NHL Crown

By Bill Alden

Ross Colton demonstrated a knack for scoring goals during his two seasons playing for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team from 2011-13.

The prolific forward tallied 45 goals in 49 games for PDS before going on to the Taft School (Conn.), Cedar Rapids of the USHL, and the University of Vermont.

Colton had 25 goals in one season for Taft, 53 goals in two campaigns for Cedar Rapids, and 28 goals in two seasons at Vermont.

The Robbinsville native was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning and ended up playing two full seasons for the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, scoring 25 goals in 128 games.

Colton was called up to the Lightning this February and scored a goal in the second shift of his NHL debut on February 24.

But last Wednesday, Colton, 24, scored the most memorable goal of his career, tallying the only score as Tampa Bay defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in game five of the Stanley Cup Finals to win the series 4-1 and earn the franchise’s second straight NHL title.

True to form, Colton’s goal resulted from him being in the right place at the right time around the goal. Hovering in the crease, he slotted home a feed from David Savard past Montreal goalie Carey Price with 6:33 left in the second period. He was named the second star of the contest.

“There’s honestly no real words to describe it,” said Colton, as quoted in a story in the Tampa Bay Times in reflecting on his Game 5 heroics.

“Just such an unbelievable feeling and just to be a part of it, is so special for me, and I thought everyone played their best 60 minutes of the year, and honestly, I’m still speechless.”

During the playoffs, the 6’0, 202-pound Colton notched four goals and two assists in 23 games, building on a rookie campaign which saw him tally nine goals and three assists in 30 regular season contests.

Reflecting on Colton’s ascension to the NHL, PDS head coach Scott Bertoli saw something special in Colton from the day he stepped on the ice for the Panthers.

“I knew he was an exceptional talent; as a freshman and a sophomore, he was averaging a goal a game,” said Bertoli, a former hockey standout at Princeton University who enjoyed a long pro career, starring for the Trenton Titans of the ECHL.

“I think he had 45 goals in 49 games. He had a knack for scoring that I would only compare to people I have played with like a Jeff Halpern (Bertoli’s teammate at Princeton University, a longtime NHL player, and current assistant coach for the Lightning). He was just that adept at scoring. His ability in scoring areas to elevate pucks, one time pucks, and get shots off quick, always impressed me.”

That ability was on display for the world to see last Wednesday evening when Colton scored a goal that clinched a championship.