March 31, 2021

With Season Cut Short Due to COVID Concerns, Hun Boys’ Hockey Rues What Might Have Been

NICK OF TIME: Hun School boys’ hockey player Nick Dimatos controls the puck in a game during the 2019-20 season. Senior defenseman and team captain Dimatos didn’t get many games during his final campaign as the Raiders went 0-3 in a season abbreviated by COVID-19 concerns. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For the Hun School boys’ hockey team, the theme of the 2021 season turned out to be what might have been.

Boasting a squad with seven seniors and some talented younger players, Hun featured depth throughout the lineup.

But paused by COVID-19 concerns and having opponents cancel games due to similar issues, the Raiders only played three games this winter, the last one coming on February 17.

“It was tough to not think about an unfortunate waste, more so than any other year, this was when we could have been good,” said Hun head coach Ian McNally.

“It is so unfortunate that this is the year that it happened. It was almost like we never got started, that it wasn’t a season.”

The Raiders ended up losing all three contests they did have, falling 6-1 to Morristown-Beard on February 12, 5-4 to Bergen Catholic on February 15, and 4-2 to Don Bosco on February 17.

“We did as well as we could, unfortunately, the three games that we were able to get in were no slouches,” said McNally.

“We played Mo Beard, we were pretty rusty and they smoked us. We played Bergen Catholic, we played hard and we fought back. We played Don Bosco and we played hard. We were never able to have the full team because of quarantines. It was whoever was available, played. We tried our best and then we went home.”

While Hun didn’t get anything close to a full slate of games, the players did benefit from daily training sessions.

“For the kids who got to practice the three or four weeks that we were there, it was enjoyable,” said McNally.

“They liked having a social thing as part of their school day. They got to know each other. If you weren’t on the same A/B day in school, you didn’t see each other. There were friendships, fun and camaraderie but it certainly didn’t feel like we had a hockey season. At the end, that part was more for the practice and enjoyment of being together.”

McNally was particularly disappointed that his group of seniors, Will Banford, Nick Dimatos, Eddie Evaldi, Zach Kandel, Elliott Lareau, Charles Lavoie, and Max Schmuckler, didn’t get to go out on a high note.

“We got just enough time to name Nick Dimatos and Eddie Evaldi as captains, they got to wear the ‘C’ for a week,” said McNally.

“They got that out of it but as a senior season, unfortunately it wasn’t much to have. There was only so much they could do. We are losing seven and it is a big-time seven, certainly more so than we have felt before with a group that is leaving at the same time. They leave pretty big holes.”

The program is planning to honor the legacy of its Class of 2021.

“We are still figuring out how to do something at the end of the year for those guys; it would have been hard to even have a Senior Day because we didn’t have any sort of a year with the senior group,” said McNally.

“If anything, you are celebrating what they have done in the past. Guys like Eddie, Nick, and Max have been here all of the way through. That is a little more understandable. You look back and think about all that they have been able to bring and how they grew up through the program.”

Looking ahead, Hun has plenty of good guys slated to return in juniors Riley Frost, Ming Yuan, Christian Clover, Josh Ouellette, Paul Dumas, and Jack Borek along with sophomores Elian Estulian, Mark Gall, Stephen Chen, and Joshua Sosner.

“With the contributions from the sophomores this year, there is enough there,” said McNally.

“They are not coming up from JV, they are contributing varsity kids that we will be able to lean on. There is certainly a group there that is certainly going to be excited to play with.”

With things hopefully returning to normal by next winter, Hun will be looking at an exciting schedule as it will be a member of two competitive prep circuits.

“We were supposed to join this APAC league (Atlantic

Prep Athletic League) that has LaSalle, Holy Ghost, Malvern, and St Joseph,” said McNally.

“We were joining that league until we weren’t allowed to go to Pennsylvania. We will do that next year. So we will be in the APAC and we will be in the MAHL (Mid-Atlantic Hockey League). Then that way there will be very few meaningless games. It will all be league play. There will be excitement to make a little more purpose.”