November 28, 2018

Boasting a Battle-Tested, Talented Squad, Hun Boys’ Hockey Primed for Big Winter

FAST EDDIE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Ed Evaldi controls the puck in a game last winter. Junior defenseman Evaldi gives Hun skill and speed from the blue line. The Raiders open their 2018-19 season by hosting Bishop Eustace on November 28 and St. Joe’s (Metuchen) on November 30 before playing at Bergen Catholic on December 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Welcoming back a battle-tested squad, Ian McNally is feeling a comfort level with his Hun School boys’ hockey team as it prepares for the 2018-19 season.

“We are skilled and we have an older group than we have ever been,” said Hun head coach McNally, who led the Raiders to a 13-8-1 record last as the program won its fifth straight Mercer County Tournament title.

“It is a lot of seniors and even the juniors seem older and big. We have a PG. It seems like a more mature group.”

That maturity has resulted in a positive atmosphere around the team in the preseason.

“The general vibe and mood around the room and practice has been great,” asserted McNally.

“That is half the battle sometimes. The skills and strategy are part of it, but if everybody feels good and likes each other then you play better. So far, so good there.”

Sophomore star forward Matt Argentina brings a special skill set to the table.

“Last year, he was a 14-year-old kid,” said McNally. “He is working out and being a hockey guy where you focus on what you eat. He looks like a bigger, older kid. He is pretty shifty and dynamic out there. He has got a second gear that is not obvious when he kicks it in. He can take off and get behind people pretty quickly and fire a shot.”

Hun boasts a core of veteran forwards around Argentina. “Brian Nelson is going to be our captain, he is a senior,” said McNally.

“James McCall is a senior and he is back. Brendan Mrotchek is another senior; he was a defenseman who we are going to push up to forward. Chris Brake is a junior and is another returning forward.”

The addition of junior Felix Turcotte, who hails from Quebec, and post-graduate Nicholas Ramsey should bolster the Hun offense.

“Felix will play forward, probably with Nelson and Argentina so he will be right in the mix,” said McNally.

“The other newcomer we have is Nick, a post-grad who is coming to Hun to play lacrosse. He played hockey in his past and decided to do it again since he has already got a path to college for lacrosse lined up.”

Along the blue line, junior Ed Evaldi and senior Aidan McDowell give the Raiders a lot of production.

“Eddie and Aidan were two kids who put up points last year playing defense for us,” said McNally. “We certainly encourage offense from the back end too; they have a green light to go up the ice.”

McNally is encouraged by the development of junior Hayden Watson and the arrival of junior Alexis Landry, another Quebec native, seeing them as key pieces for the Hun defense.

“The other guy returning is Hayden Watson, I think he grown a foot,” said McNally.

“He was already big and now he is the biggest guy on the ice. He will get to play a bigger role than he has; his skills and his speed has improved. He will get to play a more offensive role than he has. Alexis Landry is going to partner with Aidan McDowell, they are going to be offensive guys.”

At goalie, the pair of junior star Jackson Cole and promising freshman Jack Borek gives McNally flexibility.

“It is probably the first time in eight years that I have been coaching that we have two goalies on the varsity team that can both start games,” said McNally.

“Jackson will get the chance to run with it. Jackson has been great and he has won a couple of games for us over the years that we probably should not have won. Knowing that there is someone else sitting over there, you need that to push you a little. It will be helpful to him to have a young guy chomping at the bit.”

As the Raiders open their 2018-19 season by hosting Bishop Eustace on November 28 and St. Joe’s (Metuchen) on November 30 before playing at Bergen Catholic on December 3,  McNally is hoping that his team’s positive chemistry will help it become a force.

“I think our key is how quickly we come together as a team,” said McNally.

“The skill, the age, the size, the potential, and the depth; all of it is there. I don’t think we are the favorites in the things we play but there is enough there that, if we decide to come together and everybody is having a lot of fun and playing the same way, I think we could do a lot of damage.”