By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
The Princeton High School girls’ ice hockey team opened the season with an impressive victory.
Now the Little Tigers hope the victory is a sign of good things to come this season.
“I think it was great to get a win like that under our belts, especially for the first game so we can have a positive mentality for our other games,” said senior captain Alexa Zammit, who scored a pair of goals and contributed two assists when Princeton opened the season with an 11-1 victory over Westfield on Dec. 15 at Baker Rink. “The team played well. For a lot of players it was their first game. I am happy with how far they have come already this season. We have a lot of new players that are dedicated and hard-working and they love the game.”
Freshman Maddie Samaan led the offense for the Little Tigers with four goals, while freshman Olivia Benevento also scored twice. Victoria Zammit, Catherine Liu and Olivia Corrodi added a goal apiece in the win. Ella Chauder made 14 saves to pick up the decision in goal.
“We have a bunch of returners that are the strength of our team, starting with the Zammit sisters,” Princeton coach Christian Herzog said. “ Alexa is a senior captain and she holds it together for us on defense. Her sister, Victoria, is an assistant captain as a sophomore. We also return Olivia Corrodi, who is an assistant captain as a junior.
“We have a bunch of other players that we don’t always lean on for points, but were newer players two years ago and have improved quite a bit, like (junior) Grace Reardon and (senior) Sydney Rubin. We also have a strong addition in Maddie Samaan. Her mom (Mollie Marcoux Samaan) played for Princeton University and is one of their all-time leading scorers.”
Princeton finished last season with three victories after winning twice and earning a tie a year before. The hope is this season can be one in which the Little Tigers take a big step forward.
“We’ve taken our lumps the last few years, which is frustrating for the older players who are used to a higher level,” Herzog said. “Our goalie, Ella, was a freshman last year. We have worked with her and she is coming along and moving better. She is enjoying it. She was excited to get out there and play that first game.”
The Princeton roster also includes seniors Anna Schmult, Valeria Torres-Oliveras, Joslen Beslity and Ella Nadeau, as well as juniors Angelique Bencivenga and Sarah Pagano. The sophomores are Lydia Cohen, Aylin Kursat and Emilia Santianni.
Princeton followed up the opening win with an 11-6 loss to Pingry on Tuesday at Baker Rink. For a senior like Zammit, having success on the ice this season would be a nice way to close out what has been an enjoyable career.
“It has been great,” said Zammit, who also plays for the New Jersey Rockets U19 team. “I love the team and just getting to know all my teammates. It definitely creates friendships that would not have happened.
“I started hockey when I was entering middle school. It is great to play a team sport and have that experience of getting to work with the other players.”
Zammit was originally a figure skater, eventually making the transition to playing ice hockey.
“My mom originally suggested it to me,” said Zammit, who hopes to continue to play hockey in college for either her school or at the club level. “At first I was doing figure skating and then I tried hockey and never went back to figure skating. I just love the ability to bond with my team and create a new depth of relationships with other people. It has been a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone.
“The transition was a little difficult since hockey skates have shorter blades. So you need a little more technique and control. But after a few weeks you pick it up.”
Princeton plays in the Women’s Ice Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic. The Little Tigers are the only non-prep school in the league. Princeton plays in the Miran Division and Herzog is hoping his team can make a run at a division title. The season concludes with the WIHLMA playoffs, which will be sponsored by the host, Shady Side in Pittsburgh.
“One of our goals is to finish at the top of our division,” Herzog said.
Zammit is mostly hoping the Little Tigers just continue to make progress.
“It would be great to get the new players some goals and experience on the ice,” she said. “I also hope they have fun and enjoy the sport and do not get too stressed out about winning. It is nice to win. But you also want to have fun and enjoy playing.”
By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor