February 28, 2024

Senior Defenseman Shin Comes Up Big in Home Finale, Helping PDS Boys’ Hockey Make Non-Public Quarters

HOMING IN: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Han Shin, right, battles a foe in recent action. Last Thursday, senior defenseman Shin tallied a goal and two assists to help sixth-seeded PDS defeat 11th-seeded Morristown-Beard 4-0 in the first round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public tournament. On Monday, Shin contributed an assist as PDS fell 3-2 in overtime to sixth-seeded St. Augustine in the Non-Public quarterfinals to end the season with a 10-8-1 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was Han Shin’s last game at McGraw Rink and it turned out to be one of the best performances of his career.

Senior defenseman Shin scored a goal and had two assists to help sixth-seeded PDS defeat 11th-seeded Morristown-Beard 4-0 in the first round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public tournament last Thursday.

“I had a great four years here, I am going to miss it,” said Shin. “Being out here, it was playing like it is my last time. It is definitely crazy because time flies.”

Shin helped the Panthers get off to a great start against the Crimson, scoring a goal with 2:39 left in the first period and then assisting on goals by Filip Kacmarsky and Wyatt Ewanchyna in the last 30 seconds of the period.

“I just tried to float a puck on net and luckily the puck had eyes and it went in,” said Shin, reflecting on his goal. “We were just playing with confidence, we knew what we had to do. We were just excited and scored when we needed to. It helped us a lot, it gave us a comfortable lead throughout the game.”

With PDS having edged Mo-Beard 5-4 in a regular season meeting on January 22, the Panther defense tightened up in the state tourney  rematch.

“We just stayed committed to our neutral zone and forced them to dump more pucks, not off the rush,” said Shin. “We just played smarter in the zone, I think overall we just committed more.”

Last Monday, PDS produced another strong defensive effort as the Panthers gave third-seeded and defending state champion St. Augustine a battle in the Non-Public quarterfinals, losing 3-2 in overtime to end their winter at 10-8-1

Shin, who contributed an assist in the defeat, worked hard over the years to make an impact for the program.

“I think it is being more poised with the puck and being more confident in my game,” said Shin, who is headed to Wesleyan University to compete for its Division III men’s hockey program. “Every year there is a bunch of great guys, it is a bond with them. I am a better person and our coaches are great every year and help us throughout.”

PDS head coach Scott Bertoli credited Shin with bringing his A-game in the win over Mo-Beard.

“You would love to see that all of the time, he is capable of doing that whenever he plays,” said Bertoli. “There was a simplicity to his game today, he has such a dominant skill level. Han was awesome, he made a big difference.”

The Panther defense looked dominant at times against Mo-Beard.

“It has been an area of emphasis all year long to be good defensively, minimize chances, and minimize rush chances,” said Bertoli. “They probably only had two or three odd-man rushes the whole game. Part of that is our ability to skate and close gaps, whether it is Han or Strats (Connor Stratton) or [Max] Guche. They have the ability to do that.”

The two-goal outburst helped at the end of the first period and was a big boost for PDS.

“It allowed us to come in feeling really good about ourselves, it allowed us to stretch out the score a little bit which puts them in a situation where they have to start taking chances,” said Bertoli. “We had a ton of 2-on-1s in the second period because they are forced to extend themselves and try and get back into the game.”

Although PDS got knocked out by St. Augustine in the quarters, getting a win in the Non-Public tourney felt good for the Panthers.

“The state tournament has been something that we have looked forward to as a program and then we got the opportunity three years ago,” said Bertoli. “I just feel like we have underachieved in some of these games. Today we played great, I thought we played as well as we possibly could. Outside of a little stretch in the third where we took a bunch of penalties, I thought we carried and controlled play and generated a ton of chances.”

Bertoli credited his senior group with showing heart over their time with the program.

“They have been through a lot; it has been some trying years in terms of wins and losses, COVID, and being in the Gordon Conference which really forces you to be at your very best game in, game out,” said Bertoli, whose crew of seniors included Liam Jackson, Stratton, and Shin. “We have played a lot of these teams but before we weren’t playing them twice. When you look at Delbarton, the Christian Brothers Academy, and Don Bosco, those are always junior and senior-heavy teams. These kids were forced to play as freshmen and sophomores against high level kids that are all two or three years older than them.”

Shin, for his part, has enjoyed the ride over the last four years.

“It just those bonds in the locker room and on the bus rides,” said Shin. “It is just having fun with the boys, just the little things that you take for granted but you know you will miss.”