January 11, 2023

Sparked by Big Performance from Defenseman Shin, PDS Boys’ Hockey Dismantles Bergen Catholic 8-1

SHIN GUARD: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Han Shin looks to clear the puck in a 2022 game. Last Wednesday, junior defensemen Shin contributed a goal and an assist as PDS defeated Bergen Catholic 8-1. The Panthers, who defeated Worcester Academy (Mass.) 5-3 last Saturday in a consolation game at their HRM tournament to move to 4-3-2, host the Pingry School on January 12 before playing at Gloucester Catholic on January 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team having gone a pedestrian 2-2-2 in December action, Han Shin and his teammates were looking to start 2023 with a bang when they hosted Bergen Catholic last week.

“It was a new year, we knew we could be better so we decided to step it up,” said PDS junior defenseman Shin. “We talked about it before the game, tightening up the d-zone, just working harder on the forecheck and just burying it when we have the chances.”

Shin stepped up against the Crusaders, tallying a goal as PDS jumped out to a 3-1 first period lead and never looked back on the way to an 8-1 win in the January 3 contest.

“I thought we had a really good start and we just kept building on it and didn’t really stop which was good,” said Shin.

Getting the goal that put PDS up 2-1, Shin gave the Panthers the lead for good.

“I saw Rosh [Nissangaratchie] on the left side, so I kicked it out and their defense was staying up on him and I decided to keep driving,” recalled Shin. “Rosh made a good play, gave it back, and I just tried to tip it on net and it went in.”

In the second period, PDS outscored Bergen Catholic 3-0 to  turn the game into a rout.

“I just think we were dialed in and we just wanted to get the job done,” said Shin, who picked up an assist on the fifth Panther goal. “All year we have had trouble finishing games. Today was definitely a huge step up. We could step it up little more, we could definitely pick it up in the d-zone.”

In doing a good job this winter, Shin has benefited from getting a lot of ice time and bonding with his teammates.

“Being on the ice every day is huge — you get better every day,” said Shin. “It is just being with the guys and growing as a team. We are a pretty old group, we have been together for a while.”

PDS head coach Scott Bertoli liked the way his team closed the deal against Bergen Catholic.

“I am impressed, we have had leads get away from us,” said Bertoli. “We kept our foot on the gas, we played well deep into that third period. We continued to have great chances, we didn’t give up too much. We got good goaltending. We also scored. We like the idea of playing for lines when we can. Tonight was a situation where everyone played well and everyone chipped in offensively.”

Bertoli believed that his squad showed some maturity in pulling away.

“Consistency is what we are looking for — you play a competitive schedule and you are going to have your ups and downs,” said Bertoli. “You really need to manage your emotions and when things aren’t going well, don’t led them spiral. I am thinking of the Gloucester Catholic game (a 5-5 tie on December 15) where were up 4-0 and in control. A couple of bad penalties and it just spiraled in a hurry. That was the message tonight — we get up early and it felt like we were in control. We were doing a lot of good things.”

Shin is certainly doing a lot of good things for the Panthers.

“Han is an exceptional talent — he is the epitome of what we need to see happen on a more consistent basis,” said Bertoli of Shin, who has a team-high six goals. “That kid is instant offense big-time. As long as he just sticks to the game plan, he has the propensity to try and do too much. When he doesn’t, he is dominant. He was dominant tonight. Against Gloucester, he had two goals and an assist. He has the ability to do it. I don’t care how good you are, you need to play simple and make the easy plays.”

In producing the dominant win, PDS got two goals and an assist from Riley Schmidt with Liam Jackson contributing a goal and two assists and Ace Ewanchyna, Jake Harrison, Ryan Vandal, and Filip Kacmarsky each chipping in a goal.

“Our top guys like Liam and Riley got things started,” said Bertoli. “They were in on two of the first three goals — those are two kids who should score. It is older guys who get those opportunities. Ace had a nice goal.”

In Bertoli’s view, his team was refreshed coming off the holiday break.

“It came at a really convenient time, they have gone hard with the club teams and then high school has picked up for a month, there is that overlap,” said Bertoli, whose team defeated Worcester Academy (Mass.) 5-3 last Saturday in a consolation game at their HRM tournament to move to 4-3-2 and now hosts the Pingry School on January 12 before playing at Gloucester Catholic on January 17.

“The kids were tired as we went into break and they looked tired,” said Bertoli. “We didn’t do a ton the second week, and club shuts down for two weeks. It is good, it should re-energize our kids. Now it is a two-month season. It is a grind, it is game after game after game and quality opponents.”

Shin, for his part, believes the Panthers can thrive in that grind.

“We just have to stick to our game plan, we just have to keep forechecking and working hard,” said Shin. “We need to compete in the d-zone and then bury pucks when we have the chance.”