By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Terence Miller knows how important depth can be to an ice hockey team.
Providing depth is just one of the reasons senior Matt Cirillo has been such a valuable member of the Little Tigers this season.
“He’s been a grinder for us and a guy who gives us some nice depth,” Miller said after the Little Tigers improved to 7-4-2 with an 8-2 win over Steinert on Tuesday. “He’s really paid his dues over the last four years and now as a senior he is really starting to hit his stride and play well for us. He’s shown great commitment to the team. He’s a quiet kid who goes about his business and you can always depend on him to play for hard for us.
“He has paid his dues. And it is always hard to find depth. A kid like Matt can step in and play some big minutes for us which really helps us as far as our depth.”
Cirillo is in his fourth season with Princeton, but this year his role has expanded. He’s seen more ice time this year and has been able to give the Little Tigers a lift when they need it.
“I really like hockey and we have always been a real competitive team,” said Cirillo, who has a pair of assists in the win over Steinert. “Even in practice everyone I play with really drives me to get better.
“We lost a majority of our scoring from last year but I think we have recovered nicely. We just want to keep getting better. We have already come so far this year from where we started off. I just try to do whatever I can to help the team win. I’m playing wing right now.”
Princeton jumped out to a 5-0 lead on goals by Brendon McCormick, Max Garlock, Nathan Drezner, Anthony Trainor and Justin Joyce. After the Spartans scored to cut the lead to 5-1, the Little Tigers responded with goals by Luke O’Shea, Nathan Podgalski and Eamonn McDonald.
Princeton had won two straight games before falling to Notre Dame, 6-1, on Monday. But the Little Tigers responded with an impressive performance against Steinert.
“We started to hit our stride right before the holiday break came and we have picked it back up a little bit,” Miller said. “We’re starting to play a little better.”
Princeton will need to be at its best with a tough schedule of league games coming up. Playing in the CVC Colonial Division means two games apiece with the likes of Notre Dame, Hopewell Valley and Robbinsville.
“The division is tough,” Miller said. “We lost a tough one to Hopewell and then (Monday) to Notre Dame. So we have already lost twice in the division. We know every game in the league, and especially in the division, will be tough.”
The Little Tigers have also faced a challenging out of conference schedule, going 2-2-2 in six games against a variety of foes. They face South Brunswick in a non-league game today and down the road hope to fare well at tournament time.
“We have counties coming up and it is always one of our goals to qualify for states,” Miller said. “We have done pretty well out of conference. We played Cranford to a 4-4 draw, they’re a pretty good team. We beat Monroe the other night. In the holiday tournament we went 1-1 playing Woodbridge and Red Bank. All in all we are right where we should be. We’re still trying to hit our peak as we build up as a team. I am pretty happy with where we are.”
By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor