Star goalie Devin Cheifetz is bringing a clearer focus on and off the ice as he goes through his sophomore season with the Hun School boys’ hockey team.
“I think I am a better goalie through my schoolwork,” said Cheifetz.
“Once your schoolwork is done, it is a bit more relaxing and you don’t have another thing on your mind. Having another season under your belt is a great thing. It is more experience, more ice time.”
Last week, Cheifetz showed the benefit of his experience, posting two straight shutouts. On Wednesday, Cheifetz made 20 saves as Raiders blanked Germantown Academy (Pa.) 4-0. Two days later, he recorded 22 stops as Hun defeated Robbinsville 3-0.
In the Robbinsville game, Cheifetz produced some of his biggest saves when the Raiders were shorthanded in a 5-on-3 situation in the second period with the teams knotted in a scoreless tie.
“I think we do better when we are down,” said Cheifetz. “That gives us momentum because that was a big kill.”
Minutes later, Hun cashed in when it went on the power play, scoring twice.
“Once one goal goes in, the momentum changes,” said Cheifetz. “The next goal is the biggest one.”
But in the third period, Cheifetz and the Raiders found themselves under the gun again when Robbinsville went on another 5-on-3.
“It was so nerve-wracking,” said Cheifetz. “I don’t mind it though. It is part of the game and you have to learn from it.”
While Cheifetz knows that he is on a good run, he is the first to say that shutouts are a group effort.
“I am in a groove,” said Cheifetz. “We are on the ice everyday; it is kind of in my blood. I couldn’t do it without my teammates. My defense saved me a lot and I really respect them for that. I couldn’t ask for a better defense.”
Utilizing his stick skills, Cheifetz has helped his teammates get the puck up the ice.
“I love handling the puck,” said Cheifetz. “It is one of my favorite things but sometimes I get in trouble and I understand that. I can’t be stupid with it but practice makes perfect.”
Hun head coach Ian McNally likes the way Cheifetz is keeping the Raiders out of trouble.
“Devin is obviously extremely reliable; a big part of it is that he is able to play the puck,” said McNally, noting the Cheifetz now has six shutouts on the season.
“We don’t seem to spend long periods of time in our zone because if it comes within five feet of him he is able to get it out himself. A lot of teams aren’t able to do that and you certainly don’t plan for a goalie to shoot it hard. I can’t point to a spectacular save in the last two games, he has just been very reliable. He knows how to win. He adjusts himself to the game. If he knows we are only going to score two or three goals, he can’t let up any. He has been playing great.”
Cheifetz’s reliability was particularly key against Robbinsville as Hun found itself in a nailbiter.
“A lot of our games have been a 5-goal win or a 5-goal loss so we haven’t had tight games,” said McNally, whose team improved to 9-4 with the win.
“So it was 0-0 after the first and that is what we talked about at intermission. We are not usually in a position like this so here is a bit of a dogfight and you get to learn how to win.”
The Raiders broke the deadlock when they drew a five-minute major to give them a 5-on-3 with 6:10 left in the second period. Defenseman Brad Stern scored on a blast from the point with 5:57 remaining in the period and forward Chris Rossi tallied minutes later.
“Stern’s power play goal was great,” said McNally, who also got a goal in third period from Alex Bidwell.
“It is everything we have talked about. He looked, he saw that he had an opening and he buried it, so it was perfect. Rossi shot it from behind the net; he was pretty pumped up about that one.”
McNally is pumped up by how his team is playing as it regained momentum after some exam break rustiness.
“They took three days off for exam break but unlike Christmas break where we came out flying, we stunk for a week,” said McNally, whose team hosts Academy of New Church on February 3 before starting play in the state Prep tournament.
“We had a bad week of practice and we were just in a funk. So this week, we got ourselves back. Besides the one week where we had a dip, I think we have been improving the entire season and that continues to show.”
Cheifetz, for his part, is proud of the way the Raiders have continued to come together this winter.
“I love this team; this team is amazing,” asserted Cheifetz. “I think we are bonding as a team off the ice which is really a big help too. A big part of the game is getting the rhythm off the ice.”