February 8, 2023

Sophomore Star Beatty Comes Through in the Clutch As PHS Boys’ Hockey Rallies to 6-5 Win Over Paul VI

KILLER B: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Brendan Beatty looks for the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, sophomore forward Beatty scored two goals to help PHS rally from a 4-0 deficit to edge Paul VI 6-5. The Tigers, who defeated Central Bucks South (Pa.) 7-5 last Friday to improve to 11-6-1, start play in the Mercer County Tournament this week. The Tigers are seeded sixth in the MCT and will face seventh-seeded WWP Hockey Co-op in a quarterfinal contest on February 8 at the Mercer County Skating Center. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton High boys’ hockey team trailed Paul VI 4-0 late in the second period last Wednesday, Brendan Beatty and his PHS teammates weren’t fazed.

“We just had to play as one team,” said Tiger sophomore forward Beatty. “We just had to stay positive, nobody had their heads down.”

Beatty produced a positive moment for PHS, scoring a goal with 1:38 left in the second period to get the Tigers on the board.

“I just saw the shot and took the shot and TT Zhao was in front of the net screening the goalie,” said Beatty. “I just took the shot and the goalie didn’t see the puck.”

In the third period, the Tigers buried shots, putting together a furious rally which saw them outscore the Eagles 5-1 over the last 10 minutes of the contest.

“Gabe’s goal to make it 4-2, we got a little energy on the bench,” said Beatty referring to a tally by senior Gabe Silverstein which started the outburst. “We stated making some hits and we started making some plays. That is how we bounced back. We were passing the puck. We did not move the puck in the first and second period.”

Tallying his second goal of the game on a feed from senior standout Ethan Garlock, Beatty knotted the game at 5-5 with 2:38 left in regulation.

“Ethan had the puck one-on-one, nobody was near him,” recalled Beatty. “I just bolted down the ice to get the pass and saw the five hole was open.”

Over the last few games, Beatty has renewed a connection with Garlock.

“I love playing with him, we started playing with each other against Notre Dame a couple of weeks ago,” said Beatty. “I used to play with him back in squirts, we have known each other for years. We have a good connection and we picked it up in the middle of the season.”

Garlock ended up tallying the game winner, finishing in the back of the net with 3.2 seconds left in the third period.

“I did not see the play, I was focused on keeping the puck in,” said Beatty. “I saw the puck went in the net and I just went and celebrated with my teammates.”

Soaking in lessons from his teammates has helped Beatty have a big sophomore year.

“I learned a lot from John O’Donnell and John Zammit, two seniors from last year,” said Beatty, who has tallied 24 points so far this season on nine goals and 15 assists. “They always told me to keep my head up and take the shot if I had a shot.”

Beatty, who also stars in lacrosse, believes that the two sports complement each other for him.

“It is tough because I play lacrosse all year round,” said Beatty, who tallied 23 goals and 25 assists last spring for PHS. “I don’t play club hockey anymore, so this is my first year playing just high school hockey. It is a lot easier and stress-free. I have got a lot of energy on the ice. Playing lacrosse helps with my stamina in hockey because I am running all of the time in lacrosse. That just helps out my legs.”

PHS head coach Rik Johnson, who called a second period timeout when the Tigers fell behind 3-0, was confident that his players could go on a run.

“It was relax and play, all too often we start gripping our sticks too tight,” said Johnson, reflecting on his message in the timeout. “There was plenty of time left, plenty of game left, and I told them to just play your game.”

Narrowing the gap to 4-2 on the goal by Silverstein changed the tone of the game.

“The two-goal lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey,” said Johnson. “As soon we could pull in a little tighter there with that goal then it felt like there wasn’t a 2×4 or plywood in front of us. It was, ‘Get the wheel rolling and we can do this.’”

Beatty has emerged as a dangerous player for the Tigers.

“He is like Peter Forsberg (former NHL star); he can go through you or around you, either one,” said Johnson.

Johnson was happy to see Garlock come through with the decisive tally.

“It is nice to see him start to get some of these touches and finishing like that,” said Johnson. “That was good.”

In Johnson’s view, the squad’s big finish was a product of teamwork.

“When they come together and play, they are unstoppable,” said Johnson, who also got goals from Cooper Zullo and Graham Baird in the win. “It is playing as a team and not getting down and sticking with it. Everybody who was out there knew that after that second period, it was just a north-south game. It was put the pressure on them. It was a team contribution and that is what you need, otherwise you can get shut down. If it is not a team thing, it is easy to shut down.”

With the Tigers starting play in the Mercer County Tournament this week where they are seeded sixth and will face seventh-seeded WWP Hockey Co-op in a quarterfinal contest on February 8 at the Mercer County Skating Center, Johnson believes his squad can do some damage in the MCT.

“I think we are in a good place right now,” said Johnson, whose team defeated Central Bucks South (Pa.) 7-5 last Friday to improve to 11-6-1. “I would like to think this could get us rolling.”

Beatty believes that the resilience displayed by PHS in the win over Paul VI could carry it a long way this winter.

“It shows that we have a lot of heart and that we won’t give up,” said Beatty. “If you play us and we are down, we are never going give up.”