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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

SERIOUS BUSINESS: Hun School hockey coach Francois Bourbeau looks on with concern as his team battled in an early-season contest. Bourbeau guided the Raiders to a 10-6-3, the program's second straight winning campaign.

Hun Boys' Hockey Solidified Status, Aims to Upgrade Defensive System

By Bill Alden

The Hun School boys' ice hockey team solidified its status as a squad to be reckoned with by posting a 10-6-3 record this winter, the program's second-straight winning season.

But in reflecting on a season in which the Raiders suffered a pair of one-goal losses and a couple of two-goal losses to go with their three ties, Hun head coach François Bourbeau lamented what might have been.

"We came pretty close to a really good season," said Bourbeau, whose team's campaign ended with a rollercoaster 5-4 loss to Notre Dame in the Mercer County Tournament (MCT) quarterfinals as the Raiders were denied in their bid to repeat as MCT champs.

"Overall it was a pretty good season. I wish we would've ended things better. The game with Notre Dame was really good. We just needed a few more minutes."

Bourbeau acknowledged that his club needs to make better use out of the time it does have on the ice. "We need to improve our systems," asserted Bourbeau, who has now completed three years at the helm of the Raider program. "We just needed a little more practice time to polish things."

Hun certainly had a polished performer in senior forward Matt Torstrup, who scored a team-high 32 points on 22 goals and 10 assists.

"He made a big contribution to the program," said Bourbeau referring to his senior star. "He was a big help, he will be missed."

Bourbeau also got solid production from other seniors such as Drew Mervin (23 points on 15 goals and eight assists) and Justin Schleifer (15 points on seven goals and eight assists).

"The seniors were a really good group," asserted Bourbeau, whose crew of seniors also included Jeffery Fisher, Colin Ryan, John Rankin, Andrew Starr, and Jonathan Begg. "They were really close to each other. It was the group I came in with when I started here and there was a really good relationship between the players and the coaches. I hope the next group can follow that up."

Bourbeau believes he has a good foundation for next season in star junior goalie Ben Wirjosemito. "When you start with a good goalie you have a good backbone," said Bourbeau. "If a team doesn't have a good backbone, it can't walk."

In Bourbeau's view, he has a good cast of returners in front of Wirjosemito. "I'm expecting a lot from my juniors and sophomores," asserted Bourbeau, who had 10 underclassmen on his roster this winter. "I think A.J. Blackburn will step up and be more of a leader. Brendan Ryan always works hard. I'm expecting him to see more ice time."

The initial focus going forward will be tightening up on his club's defense. "We need to have better positioning on defense," explained Bourbeau. "My defensive zone coverage has to improve. We need to force teams to take fewer shots from the crease and more from the point. Those shots are easier for a goalie to handle."

Bourbeau believes the Hun program is poised to handle themselves well in the future. "I'm pretty confident, the younger guys learned a lot this year," added Bourbeau.

"They seem happy in the program, that's a good sign. Since I first came here, the program is really evolving. We're getting respect in the area from the other teams."

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