January 23, 2019

Hun Boys’ Hockey Goalie Cole Shows Maturity, Overcoming Slow Start as Raiders Fall to Hill

COLE POWER: Hun School boys’ hockey goalie Jackson Cole tracks the puck in a game last winter. Last Wednesday, junior goalie Cole made 35 saves in a losing cause as Hun fell 3-1 to the Hill School (Pa.). The Raiders, now 9-7, play at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 23 and at Holy Ghost Prep (Pa.) on January 25 before hosting Notre Dame on January 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was a shaky start for Jackson Cole as the Hun School boys’ hockey team hosted the Hill School (Pa.) last Wednesday.

The Hun junior goalie yielded three goals in the first five minutes of the contest as the Raiders dug a 3-0 hole.

“When you go down so early like that, you just think to yourself it has already gotten this bad so you might as well play as hard as you can,” said Cole.

Playing hard, Cole got in a groove after withstanding the early barrage, repeatedly thwarting the high-powered Hill attack.

“I started to feel like I was back on my feet after the first couple goals,” said Cole.

“I have always told myself that it only takes one period to play a good game. If you play as hard as you can for one period, your momentum will carry on to the next.”

The Raiders got some momentum in the waning moments of the first period as Eddie Evaldi scored with 27  9 seconds left to make it a 3-1 game.

“That goal gave us a little flash of hope,” said Cole. “We thought we could really do something there if we gave it our all.”

While Hun gave it their all over the rest of the contest, it couldn’t break through as neither team scored again and Hill held on for the 3-1 win.

Cole did his best to keep the Raiders in the game, ending up 35 saves. “For goalies, once you get warmed up and you start to get into a rhythm, it is just comes easier,” said Cole.

Inspired by some hard words from Hun head coach Ian McNally at the intermission after the first period, the Raiders raised their level of play.

“We all banded together,” said Cole. “We decided in the locker room that we weren’t going to let this get any worse and we were going to go out there and try to come back.”

In reflecting on his progress, three-year starter Cole believes he has gotten better mentally and physically in the ice.

“I think I am a lot more mature this year,” said Cole. “As I get more experienced, I start to learn how to deal with being scored against. I am growing a little bit, getting stronger and just making the best of everything.”

In Cole’s view, the Raiders have to deal with the loss to Hill by keeping up their intensity. “We just can’t hang our heads from that,” said Cole. “We have to be ready and get right back on the ice tomorrow and practice really hard.”

Hun head coach McNally urged his players to get their heads back into the game after the shaky start against Hill.

“We came in here after the first period and the challenge was put to them,” said McNally.

“It has to come from within the room. We are old and big and strong. We are not little and young and without leadership. We have tons of leaders.”

Cole showed his leadership by closing the door on Hill.

“Every time, any turnover, you try with one hand on your stick instead of two or you hope it gets out instead of making sure that it gets out, all of that is instantly a scoring chance against us,” said McNally.

“There was no room for error. People feed off of that, it is like that with anyone, you feed off if both ways. If he lets in a couple of soft goals, you think you have no chance. But all of sudden when he comes out in the second and make some statement saves, you feel like OK, wait a minute, if he is going to bail us out then maybe we can sneak in a breakaway. It gives you confidence. It could have been 8-1 without him.”

McNally is confident that his top players can compete with anybody Hun faces.

“Regardless of who we are playing, we can throw five guys out there who are as good as anybody,” said McNally, referring to sophomore forward Matt Argentina, senior forward Brian Nelson, junior defenseman Hayden Watson, senior defenseman Aidan McDowell, and junior forward Evaldi.

“We are going to generate offensive chances every game, it has nothing to do with strategy or the skill of players. If our guys decide that they don’t want the other team to do well and they internalize that and show that on the ice, then we play very well.”

The Raiders played very well over the last two periods against Hill. “It was on them to do it, we pushed hard on 10 guys,” said McNally.

“We played longer shifts, it is not easy. I know they were gassed, we had to burn a timeout early because of that. We threw everything we could in there. If we had one bounce, it might have changed it.I was proud of the effort.”

McNally hopes his players can bottle that effort as Hun looks ahead to competing in the Mercer County Tournament in early February and going after its sixth straight title in that competition.

“This is what were are capable of,” said McNally, whose team, now 9-7, plays at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 23 and at Holy Ghost Prep (Pa.) on January 25 before hosting Notre Dame on January 29.

“The challenge is on them in their room as peers and leaders. It is not easy to do when you are a teenager and say we need to take this seriously, this is important to me and I am going to pull everyone along with me.”

Cole, for his part, vows that Hun will take things seriously in the MCT.

“That is always a fun tournament for us, we tend to do well there,” said Cole. “It is something that we look forward to. We are going to be ready for that.”