Although the Hun School boys’ hockey team is experiencing some major roster turnover, Ian McNally is bringing a lot of confidence into the winter.
“We lost seven seniors, two post-graduates, and three or four other kids,” said Hun head coach McNally, who guided the Raiders toa 16-5-4 record and the Independence Hockey League (IHL) title last winter. “We have a lot of kids who never played but we should be even stronger.”
McNally’s optimism is fueled, in part, by the upbeat attitude he sees around the team.
“There is a positive hunger, we have an influx of new kids who don’t know any better,” said McNally, whose team starts the season by playing at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on December 4.
“It is infectious for older kids to have that youthful energy. There is a good buzz around the team at the rink and around school. We have taken another step in the chemistry; it was already upbeat.”
Hun will be looking for senior forwards Alec Karanikolas, Spy Avgoustiniatos, and Alex Bidwell to step up.
“Alec, Spy, and Alex Bidwell are seniors and are the biggest and strongest kids but none of them have led us in scoring,” said McNally. “They are going to give us a lot of ice time.”
A pair of freshman forwards, Evan Barratt and Jon Bendorf, figure to be productive scorers for the Raiders.
“Evan Barratt and Jon Bendorf have pretty dynamic offensive abilities,” said McNally. “We had a scrimmage with Holy Ghost and they accounted for three of our four goals. We put them together with Bidwell and that seemed to work well.”
On defense, McNally is expecting some good work from battle-tested senior Brad Stern.
“Brad Stern is an offensive guy,” said McNally. “He was injured for half the season last year with thumb and wrist and he couldn’t get into a rhythm. He played a short midget season this fall and he is looking good.”
Joining Stern along the blue line will be a pair of juniors, converted forward Chris Rossi and Bobby Wurster.
“Rossi is going to be on defense this year,” said McNally. “He plays defense for his junior team and I said we could use some defensemen and he stepped up. Billy Wurster was in middle school, left for two years and is back as a junior; he will log a lot of time. Rossi, Stern, and Wooster will carry a lot of the load.”
At goalie, senior standout Devin Cheifetz will continue to carry a big share of the load for Hun.
“Devin has started all four years; he has been our guy since he got here,” said McNally.
“We have gotten better every year since he has been here. We would like to send him out with a great senior year. He has put on a little size, filling out as a 17-18 year old. He looks big in the net; he has a lot of confidence. His strength is his ability to play the puck into the break, he is like a third defenseman.”
In McNally’s view, the Raiders are poised to have a big winter. “I think we can be even better than we were last year,” said McNally.
“We have been bounced early in the preps, it would be nice to string together some wins in that. I think we can compete with everybody on our schedule. It would help to not have injuries, we don’t have a lot of depth. We have high-end talent. We will have five or six freshmen playing regularly; a third of the team is freshmen. They are not going to be on the fourth line so it will make a big difference if they can step in right away and produce.”