March 15, 2023

Enjoying Nice Stretch Run to APAC Semis, Hun Boys’ Hockey Posted 11-13 Record

IN STRIDE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Vincent Gregoire streaks up the ice in recent action. Senior defenseman Gregoire helped Hun go 11-13 this winter as it advanced to the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference (APAC) semifinals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Heading into the final week of the season, the Hun School boys’ hockey team had plenty to play for and it rose to the occasion with two key wins.

Hun defeated Malvern Prep (Pa.) 5-2 in the first round of the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference (APAC) playoffs and then posted a 5-2 victory over local rival Princeton Day School in a regular season meeting before falling 5-1 to La Salle College High (Pa.) in the APAC semis.

In the playoff win, Hun posted its third straight victory over Malvern Prep this winter, having previously topped the Friars 4-2 and 2-1 in two regular season meetings.

“It was a good stretch, it is hard to win three times in a row against a team,” said Hun head coach Ian McNally, who got two goals from Brendan Marino in the win with Vincent Gregoire, Ryan Levesque, and Elian Estulin adding one apiece. “I think by the third game we were somewhat in their heads. Once we got up again I think was it going to take here to stay up the whole game.”

Against PDS, Hun jumped out to a 3-0 second period lead on the way to the victory.

“That was nice, usually we end up playing earlier in the year and you don’t know what you have yet and then you don’t get to play again,” said McNally, who got two goals from both Marino and Levesque in the win. “It ended up being an end of the year thing. We got out and we got up and we just never looked back. I think the guys were kind of feeling too good and it was a six or seven minute stretch where they were coming. That was their shot and then as soon as it went 4-1, I think you could feel the wind come out of their sails. They were clawing back and they were still down.”

The stretch run ended on a down note as Hun fell 5-1 to La Salle College High in the APAC semis on February 22 to finish the winter with an 11-13 record.

“We had been feeling it for a week and half and then the game started, they scored earlier and we just couldn’t quite find it,” said McNally. “We had just as many shots and scoring chances, it is not like we were out-played. That is the story against La Salle. You look at the scoresheet and we lost 5-1 and it is, ‘what, it didn’t seem to be playing out that way.’ We just didn’t score on our chances and they did.”

Although Hun fell short of a winning season, McNally believed the positives outweighed the negatives.

“In terms of wins and losses, I think this is the second time we have been below .500 since I have been here,” said McNally. “In a way, it seemed like it is one of the weaker years but it didn’t feel like that. It was an enjoyable group. We kept going through these pockets of good and some pretty memorable things where we win a big game and go on a run. We would feel stale for a while and then we would get it back going again, a 12-12 record seems a lot more suitable. It is not like we were getting thumped by anybody. I would say with this group, the better the team we played, the better we played. In those moments, we showed what the potential was.”

The squad’s large crew of seniors, Andrew Stournaras (1 goal, 3 assists), Vincent Gregoire (2 goals, 5 assists), Simon Gregoire (1 goal, 1 assist), Charles Guida (2 goals, 5 assists), Mark Gall (7 goals, 6 assists), T.J. Walsh (2 goals, 5 assists), Josh Sosner (3 goals, 5 assists), Estulin (17 goals, 16 assists), Scott Richmond (5 goals, 5 assists), and Stephen Chen (380 saves, .927 save percentage in goal), had a lot of good moments for the Raiders.

“That is always going to be tough, it is hard to turn over a whole varsity team,” said McNally. “I would have liked to have had them win the championship so they could feel that. With the COVID years, we had two seasons where we didn’t really get to play a real playoff thing. That win over Malvern was probably the first win in a playoff game for those guys. I think they felt pretty good about that. It is a class where we went through the progression because as you add guys later on and it grows every year and it morphs. They came together nicely.”

Featuring a solid core of juniors in Justin LaPlante (17 goals, 21 assists), Levesque (7 goals, 16 assists), Marino (11 goals, 8 assists), Charles Etienne Jette (4 goals, 3 assists), and Julien Arseneault (307 saves, .875 save percentage), Hun has a nice foundation in place for next year.

“We have what could be a first line — the defense is going to be the area we are losing, they are all out two years in a row,” said McNally. “Julien is coming back at goal. It is not desperate but there are some holes to fill. Our JV is stronger but younger than usual. We have eighth and ninth graders who are local kids and are close.”