With Bevy of New Faces Bringing Excitement, Hun Boys’ Hockey Produces Promising 1-0-1 Start
BRAKE OUT: Hun School boys’ hockey player Chris Brake, right, goes after the puck in action last week. Senior captain and forward Brake has helped Hun start the 2019-20 season at 1-0-1 as the Raiders defeated LaSalle College High (Pa.) 6-3 in their season opener last Wednesday and then skated to a 4-4 tie with St. John Vianney a day later. In upcoming action, Hun faces St. Joe’s Metuchen on December 11 at Woodbridge Community Center and then plays at the Lawrenceville School on December 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
With a roster stocked with newcomers, the Hun School boys’ hockey team will have a markedly different look this winter.
Noting that two-thirds of his players are new to the school as well as the program, Hun head coach Ian McNally is embracing the changes to his squad.
“The mood is great, it is like a new group; it is an excited energy,” said McNally, who guided Hun to a 15-8-1 record last winter and its sixth straight Mercer County Tournament title.
“They don’t know the history or anybody or any of that stuff. It is a fun vibe right now.”
McNally is relying on one of his old hands, Chris Brake, who has quite a history with the program, to lead the group.
“Chris is going to be our captain; he started on JV and has worked his way up,” said McNally, who got some good work from his squad in the first week of the season as it defeated LaSalle College High (Pa.) 6-3 in the season opener last Wednesday and then skated to a 4-4 tie with St. John Vianney a day later.
“He is the third Brake brother in the program and for the parents, this is their eighth year in a row. We joke that Chris has all the best parts of Patrick and Thomas. The school loves him for tour guides and open houses. He is a good all-around guy.”
Hun boasts two other good returning players at forward in junior Eddie Evaldi and senior Felix Turcotte.
“Evaldi is the biggest one in terms of returning in points and prestige; he has bounced from forward to defense,” added McNally, who will also be using junior Charlie Lavoie, junior Elliott Lareau, junior William Banford, and sophomore Riley Frost at forward. “Felix will be back at forward. He was there last year.”
On defense, McNally will be depending on junior Nick Dimatos and junior Alexis Landry to lead the way.
“Nick came in as a little 14-year-old kid with ability but just wasn’t ready to contribute and did a JV/varsity mix,” said McNally, whose blue line unit will also include junior Max Schmuckler and sophomore Ming Yuan.
“Coming into this year, he looks great out there. Alexis is back too. They will be defensive partners. They are the top guys.”
Senior goalie Jackson Cole has emerged as one of the top netminders in the area and is the rock of the Hun defense.
“This is my ninth year and we have only had three goalies: Devin Cheifetz for three years in a row, and then Diesel Pelke was the guy, and now Jackson,” said McNally.
“We have had these guys go from freshman year to senior year on almost every team. Jackson fell into that freshman year. Other guys were supposed to play and all of a sudden he was playing. We are going to lean on him heavily.”
In order to have another big season, the Raiders will need to play responsibly at the defensive end.
“It will be the ability to keep the puck out of our net,” said McNally, when assessing the keys to success for his squad.
“We have to commit to a little bit of a defensive structure and once you get the puck you can do whatever you want. I don’t even want to play defense that much. We call it the eight seconds of riding the bull; it is ‘get it back right away and then go have fun in the offensive zone.’ The best way to do that is to play offense for a long time. If you can stay down there for 30 seconds, it is easy for your defense to play.”
Featuring two high-flying forward lines, McNally believes that his squad has the potential to be relentless offensively.
“This should be a team where there is very little coaching, it is the next line up goes,” said McNally.
“They can get in a rhythm and no one is looking over their shoulder. There have been years where you have to watch who the other team is throwing out there. I don’t think we will have to do that because everyone is good enough. Everybody can do their job and just go.”