Prince­ton, Hun clash for county crown

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Joe O’Gorman jo­gor­man@tren­to­nian.com @j_o­gor­man819 on Twit­ter

Prince­ton High and the Hun School bring two dif­fer­ent re­sumes to the ice on Fri­day in the Mercer County Tour­na­ment fi­nal.

The top-seeded Tigers come in with 16 wins and a pen­chant for scor­ing goals.

The seventh-seeded Raiders have al­most just as many wins in the Mercer County Tour­na­ment as they did in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

While it might have been two very dif­fer­ent routes to Fri­day’s ti­tle game set for 5:30 p.m. at Mercer County Park, both de­serve to be there.

Along with the MCT hard­ware comes brag­ging rights around town.

Prince­ton (16-2-4) has han­dled the pres­sure of be­ing the No. 1 seed by reach­ing the cham­pi­onship game, while the Raiders (716), who are the three-time de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, are 14-0 in MCT play since 2014.

“You pick a vic­tory song in the be­gin­ning of the year and we re­ally haven’t heard it that much this year,” said Hun coach Ian McNally. “So, there guys are re­ally Jonesing for an­other win.”

While Hun is no stranger to the county fi­nal, the Tigers are mak­ing their first ap­pear­ance since 2012. They last won it in 2011.

“It’s go­ing to be fun,” said Prince­ton coach Ter­ence Miller. “It’s this group’s first trip to the fi­nals and we are look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge.

As a show of team unity, all the Raider play­ers went for a mul­let hair­cut, and it must be work­ing. They came into the tour­ney on a nine-game skid, but have outscored their MCT foes, 20-4.

Prince­ton has tal­lied 115 goals this sea­son and has six play­ers with over 15 points. But, it has been the Tigers’ de­fense that has been set­ting the tone lately.

“De­fense has to come first,” said Miller. “Sawyer (Peck) has been di­aled in for us and when you come up against qual­ity teams you can’t be re­lin­quish­ing many goals and ex­pect to be suc­cess­ful.”

It has been a very bal­anced game plan for the Tigers; play sound de­fense, pres­sure the goal of­fen­sively and don’t lose the spe­cial teams bat­tle.

Bren­don McCormick has a county-best 35 goals with 25 as­sists and is the trig­ger­man for Prince­ton. A pair of fresh­man have ben­e­fited from play­ing on McCormick’s line as Rocco Sal­vato and Ai­den Trainor each have 15 goals. Trainor leads the county in as­sists with 35.

They have got­ten plenty of sup­port from Max Gar­lock, Justin Joyce, Ea­monn McDon­ald, Nathan Podgal­sky.

Hun’s speed has been the cat­a­lyst to gen­er­at­ing its of­fense.

“We want to go as fast as we can and cause chaos,” said McNally. “As the other team starts to wear down we get turnovers out of it. It comes down to win­ning the en­durance bat­tle.”

Blake Brown and Tan­ner Pre­ston are the two most notable play­ers who have played a ma­jor role in the Raiders’ three straight ti­tles.

Brown, who had a hat trick in the semi­fi­nal win, has 21 goals and 15 as­sists. Pre­ston, who is a premier de­fense­man, has 22 as­sists and sopho­more Kyle Man­dleur has been very ef­fec­tive in the MCT. He has 19 goals and 11 as­sists on the sea­son.

“We know a lot of their play­ers,” said Brown. “This is amaz­ing to be go­ing for a fourth and we’d love to get it.”

GREGG SLABODA — TREN­TO­NIAN PHOTO

Prince­ton’s Bren­don McCormick, left, con­trols the puck against Rob­binsville dur­ing MCT semi­fi­nal ac­tion.

GREGG SLABODA — TREN­TO­NIAN PHOTO

Hun’s Guil­laume He­bert, left, and Notre Dame’s Sean Whit­taker, right, chase after the puck dur­ing an MCT semi­fi­nal game.

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