January 18, 2023

Sophomore Standout Speir Explodes for 6 Goals as PHS Girls’ Hockey Fights Hard in Loss to Madison

SIX SHOOTER: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Cassie Speir, right, goes after the puck in recent action. Last Thursday, sophomore star Speir scored a career-high six goals as PHS fell 12-6 to Madison in a game played at Hobey Baker Rink. The Tigers, who moved to 0-8 with the loss, host Immaculate Heart on January 18 at Hobey Baker Rink, play at Madison on January 19, and then host Chatham on January 24 at Hobey Baker Rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Cassie Speir has a lot on her plate this winter in her sophomore season for the Princeton High girls’ hockey team.

Speir plays defenseman, scores nearly all of the team’s goals, and serves as an assistant captain.

While shouldering such responsibility could be a bit overwhelming for a second-year player, Speir is enjoying herself.

“I just love the team, we are all so supportive of each other,” said Speir. “Everybody is here to have fun. We don’t win that much, but we have fun at practice, we have fun at games, we have fun in the bus, and in the locker room.”

Last Thursday, Speir had a lot of fun, tallying a career-high six goals as PHS fell 12-6 to Madison in a game played at Hobey Baker Rink.

Coming into the matchup against the Dodgers, Speir and her teammates were confident that they could hold their own.

“We were all on the bus researching them and this could be a game where we could actually stay in it and have a good chance,” said Speir. “It was competitive.”

After scoring one goal in the first period as PHS fell behind 3-1, Speir cashed in on her chances in the second, scoring four goals.

“I really was feeling it,” said Speir, reflecting on her second period outburst which saw her score goals on end-to-end rushes and some one-timers from the point. “In the second period I feel like I usually do better. It is getting warmed up and getting into the game and seeing where the goalie plays well and I can look for chances.

Although Speir’s heroics helped PHS narrow the gap to 4-3 at one point, it could not get closer as it moved to 0-8.

“It definitely was (a step forward),” said Speir, reflecting on the team’s effort. “Our goalie is getting better every single day. Everybody is getting used to playing with the pucks and skating. Everyone is just getting better.”

Speir got into hockey as a grade-schooler. “I have been playing since I was 8 or 9; one of my friends was playing and I thought it was such a cool sport,” said Speir. “I started at Nassau and then they merged with the Flames. I was on a boys team for a year and then I was Tiger Lily.”

While Speir has spent plenty of time on the ice, she is determined to hone her skills.

“I am really working on my shot, especially in the games,” said Speir. “I work on stick-handling and deking everyone.”

PHS head coach Christian Herzog enjoyed seeing Speir’s work pay off against Madison.

“It was nice to see Cassie put the biscuit between the pipe,” said Herzog. “It was one of those things where it just wasn’t working out for her in the first period. The goalie’s top left was a little more open than other spots, she was decent as far as the butterfly. Cassie found the spot to send it home with.”

With Speir having scored 13 of the team’s 14 goals this season, she is giving the Tigers some nice work.

“Cassie is the iron woman of the team; what makes my day is the way she dekes some of the players,” added Herzog. “I like to see her putting her best foot forward. It was good to see her smile when the boys’ hockey players were cheering for her tonight out there when she was dropping her shoulder or going on a toe drag. She is a good kid too.”

Junior goalie Logan Hollingsworth, who had 27 saves, including some point blank stops, is making good progress between the pipes.

“Our goalie is coming along, like any other sport you have to get out there and play consistently,” said Herzog. “She just really hasn’t had that opportunity, she is not afraid to work hard. We talked about just going for it. If no one is around go for it, you get beat or you make a good save, one or the other.”

Senior captain Annie Terry has been setting an upbeat tone for the Tigers.

“Annie has been playing well,” said Herzog. “She is like Miss Positivity — she is enjoying her hockey.”

Although PHS has been taking its lumps in the early going, the players have remained positive.

“They are here to have a good time; they realize that the majority of them are brand new to the sport,” said Herzog, whose team hosts Immaculate Heart on January 18 at Hobey Baker Rink, plays at Madison on January 19, and then hosts Chatham on January 24 at Hobey Baker Rink.

“They are not travel players but you can’t take the spirit out of them. I try to provide them an opportunity where we can click together and have each other’s backs. This is the year to take some more chances and give girls opportunities in the hopes that some more talent is going to come in and some of these girls get a little stronger.”

Speir believes that the Tigers are laying the groundwork for a strong future.

“We have a ton of freshmen and a lot of sophomores too,” said Speir. “It is just keep practicing hard and developing; next year will definitely be a good year for us.”