January 10, 2024

Hun Boys’ Hockey Battles Hard in Loss to Don Bosco As Goalie Arseneault’s Superb Effort Keeps Raiders Close

FIGHTER JETTE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Charles-Etienne Jette, right, goes after the puck in a game last season. Last Thursday, senior defenseman Jette contributed an assist as Hun fell 4-2 to Don Bosco Prep. The Raiders, now 2-5, face the Portledge School (N.Y.) at the Beaver Dam Winter Sports Club in Locust Valley, N.Y., on January 11 before hosting St. Augustine Prep on January 16 at the Ice Land Skating Center. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Julien Arseneault was primed to step up for the Hun School boys’ hockey team as it hosted powerhouse Don Bosco Prep last Thursday.

“I was ready, it is a big team,” said Hun senior goalie Arsenault of the clash with the Ironmen, who came into the game ranked as the No. 1 team in the state by NJ.com. “It is a challenge for me so I love it.”

Arseneault proved to be  up for the challenge, looking sharp from the start, making 10 saves in the first period as the foes battled to a 1-1 tie. In the second period, Arseneault took things to a higher level, holding Don Bosco scoreless as he made 15 stops.

In reflecting on his heroics, Arseneault said he got into a rhythm early on.

“Just coming back from break I wasn’t sure at first but the first couple of shots then I was in it,” said Arseneault. “I was seeing the puck. Sometimes I feel like everything slows down.”

The Raiders got worn down in the third period as the Ironmen scored two straight goals midway through the frame to go up 3-1 before Hun got a goal from Jack Neckritz with 44 seconds left in regulation to narrow the deficit to 3-2. Don Bosco responded with an empty netter to prevail 4-2.

“I feel like the physical aspect was rough a little bit; they were taller, bigger, stronger, and I think they were older than us,” said Arsenault, who finished with 36 saves on the day as the Raiders moved to 2-5. “In the end, I think we played a good game. We are coming in and we know we can beat any team we want. That is the approach we have got to have and we fought hard today. We just said in the locker room, ‘If we keep playing like this, we are going to get some wins pretty soon.’”

As a senior, Arseneault is looking to take an upbeat approach.

“I have an important role this year as a leader and on the ice,” said Arseneault. “I am happy I get these big games, and I can keep going forward with that. It is really exciting — I am happy
about that.”

Arseneault is excited to get the call in big games like the Don Bosco contest.

“I am trying to have fun and win some games; I am happy I am getting a lot of shots because I keep developing,” said Arseneault. “Personally, it is a great season, and I am happy to be here.”

Hun first-year head coach Eric Szeker is more than happy with Arseneault’s play this season.

“Julien has been unbelievable all year, from the very first day he started skating,” said Szeker. “He has been a leader on and off the ice. He has done an excellent job at it. He is a quiet guy naturally and you can see that he is coming out of his shell more. I think that leadership has really translated into his game. He has always been a great goalie that we can rely on. He has made some awesome stops and he made some unbelievable saves tonight.”

While Hun didn’t pull out a win against the Ironmen, Szeker likes the way his players battled.

“It was the second game back from break. Over the last three games, we have really seen a big jump in the way we have been playing,” said Szeker. “We had some tough losses early. Now every game we are in it to the very end. The mindset is that we are a good team. We just have to continue to prove it to ourselves and other people around us that we can compete at a high level.”

In Szeker’s view, his players have the right mindset to keep making progress.

“We have a young team. We are still trying to find our way a little bit, but we have got the right attitudes,” said Szeker, a 2013 Hun alum who starred for the Raider hockey program. “We have a great group of guys who want to be here and wear the Hun logo. Things are going in the right direction.”

Senior Ryan Levesque, who scored Hun’s first goal against Don Bosco, is making a great impact for the Raiders in his final campaign with the program.

“Ryan is an incredible hockey player, but an even better human being off the ice,” said Szeker. “He is
doing a great job of bringing in the younger guys and building a great culture in the locker room. His play on the ice has just gotten better and better every time he touches the puck.”

The trio of seniors Jack Neckritz, Justin Laplante, and Charles-Etienne Jette have also been doing a great job for the Raiders.

“We just recently threw Jack back to defense, which is a tough transition for some guys,” said Szeker.

“He has played extremely well, he has done a great job for us moving pucks up the ice. Justin shows up every day and works his tail off. He is an incredible leader, he has accountability with all of the guys. He works so hard, you can see it. Jette is another good defenseman. He works his butt off, he is an awesome kid to have in the room.”

With Hun facing the Portledge School (N.Y.) at the Beaver Dam Winter Sports Club in Locust Valley, N.Y., on January 11 before hosting St. Augustine Prep on January 16, Szeker believes his squad is on the verge of going on a hot streak.

“You can take little things away from a game and tell that you are going in the right direction,” said Szeker. “We play a tough schedule, we play some great teams. It is just continue the plan. We have a system we have put in place and it has gotten better and better every week. It is just trusting the process and sticking to it. Everybody is on the same page. We are right there. It is two or three minutes or two or three small mental mistakes that are the difference between a 4-2 win and a 4-2 loss.”

Arsenault, for his part, believes that the effort against Don Bosco is a harbinger of good things to come for the Raiders.

“This was a game that proves that we can compete against any team,” said Arsenault. “Pretty soon I think we will get on a roll, it is going to be better for us. I am confident.”