Junior Goalie Pelke Proving to Be Valuable Addition As Hun Boys’ Hockey Unbeaten Through Six Games
Over the last four years, goalie Devin Cheifetz was a constant for the Hun School boys’ hockey team.
Starting from day one as a freshman in the 2010-11 season, Cheifetz’s brilliance in goal helped Hun turn the corner on the way to winning Independence Hockey League (IHL) titles in 2013 and 2014 along with the Mercer County Tournament in 2014.
With Cheifetz graduating last spring, Diesel Pelke transferred from Lawrence High to take over between the pipes.
Based on the early returns, it appears that Hun has another star goalie to serve as the foundation for a championship run.
Despite the absence of star forward Evan Barratt, who is sidelined until January with a leg injury, the Raiders have produced a 5-0-1 start.
Pelke has been giving up less than two goals a game, posting a 1-0 shutout in overtime against LaSalle last Wednesday and then making 31 saves in a 1-1 tie with Calvert Hall (Md.) last Friday.
For Pelke, succeeding Cheifetz did pose a challenge. “Those are big shoes to fill,” said the 5’9, 195-pound Pelke. “I felt a little bit of pressure.”
Against Calvert Hall, Pelke withstood a lot of pressure, coming up big repeatedly, particularly in the second period when Calvert Hall generated several good scoring opportunities.
“I thought I was doing pretty good, I was coming off of a shutout against LaSalle,” said Pelke. “They had a little more pressure on us in the second but we still kept them out.”
Pelke did yield a goal with 1:19 left in regulation as Calvert Hall found the back of the net after producing a flurry of chances. “It was just a bad bounce, we couldn’t get it out,” said Pelke.
While Pelke was disappointed with the tie, he thought the experience would benefit the Raiders in the long run.
“I think it helps us for the playoffs when it gets closer and we are playing better teams,” said Pelke.
Off the ice, Pelke has fit in nicely, helped by a familiarity with the Hun community. “The transition is great, I had a lot of friends coming into the school,” said Pelke.
Hun head coach Ian McNally sees Pelke as a great addition to the program.
“He has been an incredible rock for us,” said McNally. “They had 30 chances tonight and he played great against LaSalle. He is just always in the right place. He is not flashy. We talk in the room about what to do with the rebounds because you know it is not going to go in and we need to make sure that we are the next one to touch the puck. He has been a big reason we have the record that we have.”
Sophomore forward Jon Bendorf has stepped up in the absence of Barratt.
“This happened twice last year where he was without his running mate in Evan and he was able to dial it up on his own,” said McNally of Bendorf, who scored the winning goal against LaSalle and assisted on Frankie Vitucci’s tally against Calvert Hall.
“When he is with Blake (Brown) and Evan, we talk about the three of them as a package. When he is on his own, he can dominate a shift. There were times today where he had the puck for 30 seconds in a row, nobody can hit him, nobody can get it from him.”
On the blue line, 6’3, 185-pound Bobby Wurster has been giving Hun some dominant play.
“Bobby Wurster has been awesome in the back,” said McNally. “He plays the bulk of the game. Same as Diesel, if we didn’t have Bobby, these games would be a much different story. He has been great.”
Senior transfer Brayden Stasow, a native of Alberta, Canada, has been impacting games for the Raiders.
“He is the kind of kid who is not going to score the most goals and he is not going to do something extremely fancy that will catch attention,” said McNally.
“But if you watch him the whole shift, he is very impressive. He is always around the puck. He is small but he will play physical to get the puck. He does the little things very well and complements some of our offensive guys nicely because they have the ability to go finish because Brayden goes and gets the puck. He always seems to be in the right place.”
Hun’s impressive start has raised the bar for the program and what it can accomplish this winter.
“The expectations grow a little bit which is great,” said McNally, whose team plays at Princeton Day School on December 18.
“We didn’t know what we were coming into the season because we changed our schedule and we are missing a pretty big piece for being able to play those teams that we scheduled. We really weren’t sure how these first two months would play out. What we have learned is that we can play with everybody and we should expect to win and go in with that sort of confidence. We have learned that we are no longer building towards something, we are here and it is time to go ahead and play with everybody.”
Pelke, for his part, believes that the team has built a special camaraderie which has helped it play with confidence.
“We are close on this team, everyone likes each other,” said Pelke. “I think seeing each other in school a lot is a big part of it, that helps us have a good relationship on and off the ice.”