The Hill School, on East High Street in Pottstown, might not yet be a certified pipeline to Division I hockey programs, but Snee and the rigorous schedule the Blues play are helping the school develop a reputation.
``We play a very, very tough schedule,'' said coach Tom Eccleston, a 1987 graduate of the school. ``The teams we play are some of the best in the country.''
While Hill occasionally plays one of the area's better programs, such as Germantown Academy of the Suburban High School Hockey League, its season is mostly composed of home-and-away matchups with the most respected teams in New England, where hockey is a religion to many.
Many of the opponents hail from the New England Prep School Hockey League, a 50-team league split in two divisions.
On Feb. 14 and 15, for example, the team traveled to Connecticut for games against the Gunnery School (a 5-2 victory) and Avon Old Farms (a 7-2 defeat).
More recently, the squad hosted two teams - one from Massachusetts (Winchendon) and the other from upstate New York (Millbrook). Hill lost to Winchendon, 7-6, but beat Millbrook, 8-2. On Feb. 18, Hill faced the Philadelphia Junior Flyers, a midget A-level club team featuring the more polished players from area high schools, and lost, 4-3, in overtime.
The Hill School's roster includes 22 players, three of them postgraduates. The team ended its 26-game schedule at 16-10, 12-8 against the New England prep schools. And, with a rink right on campus, there is ample time to practice.
``A lot of our kids do come here to play hockey, but we're about more than just that,'' Eccleston said. ``We offer a lot as far as academics are concerned. The players themselves will tell you that.''
Pavol Kocvara, a 19-year-old who was born and raised in Slovakia, represents the diversity of the school's hockey program. He came to the United States in 1995, played hockey for two years at Chatham High (N.J.), then transferred to Hill last fall.
Kocvara, called ``Palo'' by his family and close friends, is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defenseman who also should wind up playing for a recognized college program. He is one of the squad's postgraduates.
``He's played hockey almost his entire life,'' said Eccleston, who is also Hill's assistant director of admissions. ``He's a great skater, good on his feet, and he's an extremely hard worker - both athletically and academically. The people here on campus all love him.''
Kocvara's grasp of English is improving. And, he said, the homesickness that once plagued him has all but disappeared.
``The people here in America are really nice,'' Kocvara said. ``I want to stay over here, go to college, and then I'll decide if I want to go back to Slovakia. There are a lot more opportunities for me, I think, here.''
The Rochester Institute of Technology, which earlier this season was the country's top-ranked Division III team, has expressed interest in him. Other possibilities include Connecticut, Fairfield, Vermont, Boston University and Wesleyan (Conn.).
``Pavo has the potential to play at the Division I level,'' Eccleston said. ``He's a big kid who can skate. That's what college coaches are looking for.''
Snee is a 6-1, 195-pound goalie who models his game after the New Jersey Devils' Martin Brodeur.
Brodeur is ``a stand-up-type goalie, likes to challenge opposing forwards before he goes down on the ice,'' the senior said. ``That's what I try to do when I'm out there.''
Snee grew up in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia, attended Archbishop Ryan for two years, and then transferred to Hill in 1996.
``Playing for Archbishop Ryan, I wouldn't have been able to go up against the best competition,'' Snee said. ``I needed to be tested on a regular basis.''
Snee, who has allowed an average of just over two goals per game this season, is adept at cutting down scoring angles and staying calm when pressured. He lost 20 pounds in the off-season to prepare for the rigors of the 1997-98 campaign.
``He's been rated, by several publications, as one of the best high-school goalies in the country,'' Eccleston said. ``He's legit. He's got to be the best goalie to come out of this area since [the New York Rangers'] Mike Richter.''
The heady goalie knows the NHL scouts are watching.
``I don't worry about that, though,'' he said. ``I just go out there and play the game.''