January 8, 2020

Enjoying Another Trip to Purple Puck Event, Hun Boys’ Hockey Primed for Stretch Run

STEADY EDDIE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Eddie Evaldi heads up ice in a recent game. Last week, senior star Evaldi helped Hun reach the semifinals of the Purple Puck National Capital Hockey Tournament outside of Washington, D.C. Hun, now 3-5-1, hosts Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) on January 8 and Seton Hall Prep on January 10 at the Ice Land Skating Center. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For the Hun School boys’ hockey team, its trip to compete in the Purple Puck National Capital Hockey Tournament outside of Washington, D.C. has proven to be an annual highlight for the program.

Having won the Purple Puck competition in 2018, Hun was primed to defend its title as it headed down to D.C. in late December.

“That trip is always fun for us. People like it for different reasons,” said Hun head coach Ian McNally.

“If you are returning, you like it because you look forward to it. We have a lot of new guys this year so it was new again for them.”

While Hun failed to make it two straight crowns as it lost 5-3 to Loyola Academy (Ill.) in the semis on December 30, McNally believes his team will benefit from the experience.

“We played well, the guys were in high spirits,” said McNally. “We milked as much as we could out of the 10 varsity guys that we brought there. We had three JV guys filling in the holes and they did the best they could. It was definitely enjoyable and worth it. Everybody had a great time. We are glad we went.”

In the semi, Hun played well in defeat as it pushed Loyola hard. “It was a great game. They were fast and physical, similar to us,” said McNally who got two goals from junior Charles Lavoie in the loss with junior Elliott Lareau adding the third.

“Up until two or three minutes left in the game, I thought we might pull it out. All of sudden when there is a minute left, I realized it is not going to happen.”

Two newcomers to the Hun program, junior transfers and fellow Canadians Lavoie and Lareau, have been making things happen.

“Both of them are getting more comfortable every week that they are here, they are very skilled players,” said McNally.

“We put them on a line together after this rash of injuries we had. They were on different lines for the first month; we had six pretty good players so we had two lines. Out of necessity, we threw them all together and those two have clicked.”

The manner in which Lavoie and Lareau have clicked as a one-two punch is reminding McNally of the partnership between NHL greats Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks.

“Charles is not huge, but he is a bigger guy and he can shoot; he is more of a nose-for-the-net finisher,” said McNally.

“Elliott is the consummate student of the game. He absorbs where to be, how to use his stick, and what position to have. On top of that, he can score and he can pass. He is the all-around guy. He is the Jonathan Toews and Lavoie is like the Patrick Kane type.”

McNally is hoping his players can use the Purple Puck experience as a springboard for a run in Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) competition.

“We haven’t qualified for this MAHL playoff yet in the the three years we have done it, that is still available,” said McNally, whose team hosts Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) on January 8 and non-league foe Seton Hall Prep on January 10 at the Ice Land Skating Center.

“We play Wyoming Seminary right away and that is basically a must win. We have played three games and we have gone win, loss, overtime tie. We have got one of each but we have to string two wins together here.”

In order to be in better position to pick up some wins, Hun will need some luck on the injury front.

“We will get some bodies back here in the next week and hopefully get back up to full strength,” said McNally, who has guided the Raiders to six straight Mercer County Tournament titles.

“Wednesday is a must-win because after that, we will only have two league games and we have eight or nine non-league games to finish. It would be nice to go on a run there, but you want to feel like you are playing for something, too.”