Hun Boys’ Hockey Featuring Solid Lineup, Aims to Enjoy Success in Limited Schedule
FAST EDDIE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Eddie Evaldi races up the ice in a game last winter. Senior defenseman Evaldi will be depended on to spark Hun at both ends of the ice again this year. The Raiders are slated to start their 2021 season by hosting the Pingry School at the Ice Land Rink on February 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
When the Hun School boys’ hockey team finally hit the ice last week to start training for an abbreviated 2021 season, the players weren’t just looking to sharpen their skills.
“You come to school on your alternating days, you have a mask on, you stay away from everybody, you go home and there is no social interaction,” said Hun head coach Ian McNally.
“It has taken a toll on that part. I think they are just happy to be in a place where they are the hockey program, whether they are playing in a league or not.”
With Hun playing a limited schedule with no Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) action, McNally is ruing the lack of postseason play.
“We only graduated a handful of kids; it comes and goes in waves when you are good and when you are average,” said McNally, who guided the Raiders to a 9-14-2 record last year, advancing to the Mercer County Tournament final and the MAHL semis.
“This is unfortunately taking away one of our good years because we are looking pretty strong. Across the board, we should be pretty strong with two lines, a couple of sets of defensemen, and both of our goalies are returning as well.”
The Raiders return some blue-chip offensive players in the pair of senior stars Charles Lavoie and Elliott Lareau from Quebec along with sophomores Elian Estulian and Mark Gall.
“Lavoie and Lareau are back,” said McNally of his two standouts who formed a potent one-two punch for the Raiders last year.
“Estulian broke out a little bit last year as a freshman. He showed some glimpses of offensive ability last year even as a young kid. He is a big kid so he doesn’t look the part of an inexperienced kid. We will see if he is able to take the next step up offensively and be one of our goal scorers. Mark Gall is also returning.”
Senior Will Banford and junior Riley Frost are back from injury and should add firepower as well.
“Will came in new last year and unfortunately, in the first or second week, he broke his finger and wasn’t able to get cleared to play until the last week of the season,” said McNally.
“He missed most of the season so he is chomping at the bit to even play for Hun. We will lean on him too because he will be a senior. We had a similar situation with Riley Frost, he is a good little forward. We played a great game at PDS and he got banged up. It was the same thing, he was out for the rest of the year. We haven’t really seen what he can do. He could be a good scorer for us too.”
On defense, senior Eddie Evaldi should be a very good two-way performer for Hun again this winter.
“Eddie has played more defense than forward for us even though he grew up playing forward,” said McNally.
“He has a skating ability whether he is a trained defenseman or not. He can get himself to the right spot. Even if he gets beat, he can get back to make up for it. He can skate the puck up and lead us out of the zone. He naturally has the skill set to play defense. I think he likes it because he can see the whole ice. The way he plays, he could literally stay on the ice the whole period and he probably wants to. Playing on defense gives him a little more leverage in that regard.”
Hun boasts some good depth in its blue-line unit. “We have Nick Dimatos returning and he is one of the better defensemen around right now,” said McNally, who is also welcoming back junior Ming Yuan and junior Christian Clover on defense.
“He has grown every year and as a senior now he is as good as they get. We have got some newcomers, we have a couple of new junior defensemen which is nice because we were hurting there. We have Josh Ouellette from Quebec and Paul Dumas another kid from Quebec.”
At goalie, junior Jack Borek and sophomore Stephen Chen give Hun some good experience.
“Jack was with varsity all of last year; we needed Stephan to play JV but he also deserved a couple of starts,” said McNally.
“One of the last games of the year was against Holy Ghost, it was their senior night and it was this awesome game at Grundy. Stephen played that game for us and did well. They will both be returning as varsity goalies.”
With Hun starting its 2021 season by hosting the Pingry School at the Ice Land Rink on February 1, McNally believes the team can enjoy a special season even without the opportunity for postseason play.
“In the 10 years I have been here, we haven’t had a ton of our games be league games; we have been part of leagues that were a small part of our schedule,” said McNally.
“Typically 80 percent of our games are just games that we schedule so in that way it won’t be all that different from other years. We will have a miniseries with PDS. We are going to play them three times which is exciting. We will finish our last two games against them so for the kids that will be their local championship. This would have been a banner year, hopefully we still get the chance to feel success.”