Former National Hockey League draft pick takes over coaching for boys hockey

photo by Aaron Wu

With a 301 record to start the season, PHS boys ice hockey is ranked fourth in New Jersey Public B, in large part due to the name it has made for itself after beating number-one-ranked Morris Knolls High School in the state tournament semifinals last year. The team reached the Mercer County Tournament finals last season under Head Coach Terrance Miller as well. In the current season, however, the team strives to achieve what they did last year with their new Head Coach Tim Chase, who is also the  

Despite the change at the helm of the team, the players are focused on continuing the positive momentum from a year ago.

“Last year we realized our potential,” said Captain Max Garlock ’18. “We do not want to let the momentum from last year go, and we want to become a [consistently] strong program for years to come.”

Ambitious to recreate the same success as last season, Chase, previously drafted into the National Hockey League by the Montreal Canadiens, looks to implement a new style of playing hockey.

“I try to change a few things [in terms of] being more aggressive in the opponent’s zone, trying to get the puck down there and keep it there. Also, we are working on controlling the puck instead of having to chase down the other team all the time.”

In hockey, there are two main styles of play on the high school level: dumping and chasing, or playing a possession controlling game. Last year’s team implemented the dumping and chasing approach under Miller. This approach involved arbitrarily sending the puck up the ice in hopes that one of the quickest, attacking players could chase the other team and force a turnover. Garlock believes Chase is the possession type.

“He definitely has a different approach to coaching. He wants to get a possession game going instead of just grinding teams down to the last second.”

Goalie Harry Skopas ’19 addresses the point that Chase is more of a possession and controlling coach than Miller was in past years.

“Chase wants us to hold [the puck] more and control the flow of the game. I think we have the players to do that but it is going to take some time to implement [the new play style].”

Chase believes in holding the puck in order to have sustained attacking play and to reserve energy. Having a majority of the possession limits the need to chase after the puck, which represents a large consumption of players’ energy. In order to implement these beliefs on the ice, Chase is remodeling practice.

“I have a pretty up-tempo practice. Within every drill the same concepts are enforced: force the play, take the puck wide, find space, and keep your head up. My drills are centered around implementing that process.”

Chase knows that introducing a new style of play can be difficult, even strenuous, on players that have had success with a different style in the past. He also understands the tendencies of both offensive and defensive players well with his plethora of past hockey experience.

“I’ve played competitive high school hockey, and I was drafted as a forward and played defense professionally. I understand both sides of the puck and the game from each person’s point of view,” Chase said.

A different way of playing the game does not impede expectations from the team captain however.

“I think we still have the same goal, [which is to] to make it to the final of the [MCT], as well as the state final. With this team we have a couple of young guys and a mix of guys from last year so it should be a good season,” Garlock said.

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