It’s been an up and down season for the Hun School ice hockey team.
But when it matters most, the Raiders have been trending up.
Hun won its fourth straight game and improved to 5-0-1 in its last six outings with an 8-3 victory over Robbinsville in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals on Wednesday at Mercer County Park, West Windsor.
With the victory, the Raiders earned a chance to play for their sixth straight MCT title.
“I’ve never seen a season like this,” said Hun coach Ian McNally, whose team improved to 14-8-1 with the decision over Robbinsville. “We go four wins, then four losses. Then six wins and four losses. We’re 0-6 in our league and if you take those out we’ve won a lot of our games. So it has been a mixed year. I think the guys are disappointed that we didn’t win any league games. Yet we ended up with a pretty good record and we’ve done well. It’s been a good season but it has been a rollercoaster.”
And the rollercoaster ride has then in the MCT final, where the Raiders will meet Princeton for the third straight year.
Hun defeated Princeton, 9-4, in last year's final and edged the Little Tigers, 4-3, the year before in the title game.
The Raiders will face Princeton for the second time this season when the team’s play in Friday’s 5:30 p.m. MCT final at Mercer County Park. In an earlier matchup, Hun came away with a 7-3 victory in a game in which Princeton was not at full strength.
“You never get tired of it,” senior captain Brian Nelson said of playing in the championship game. “The boys worked hard today. We just wanted to keep things simple and get the job done. We get another matchup with Princeton and that should be fun. It’s the third year in a row. We’re ready to come out and try to make it six in a row.”
Matt Argentina finished with three goals and a pair of assists to lead the offense for the Raiders. Nelson, Aidan McDowell, Hayden Watson, Felix Turcotte and Paul Argiriou also scored in the semifinal victory.
“This year we are definitely more of a skill team,” Nelson said. “The past couple years we’ve been more of a gritty team and more defense first. But this year we have a lot of skill players so we have been working on putting the puck in the net and that is how we have been winning games.”
Hun knows that Princeton was not at full strength in the earlier meeting this season.
“We played once earlier in the year and unfortunately they didn’t have all of their guys,” McNally said. “So we have’t had our true game yet and it has provided some fuel to come into this tournament and whether it was Notre Dame or Princeton, we got to play one of them again.
“They have a couple of good lines and a lot of these guys know each other and play with each other. So it will be fun.”
Nelson is looking forward to closing out the season the same way he has his first two with the Raiders. he joined the program as a sophomore and has faced PHS in the MCT final each year.
“It’s always a bunch of fun,” Nelson said. “A bunch of fans come out and it gets rowdy and loud and the adrenaline gets pumping. It’s always the biggest game of the year for us.”
As a senior captain, Nelson has been enjoying this season as much as any he’s ever played on the ice. His 21 goals as a team-high for the Raiders this season.
“It’s been great,” Nelson said. “I’ve never played this well in my life. Everything has been clicking for me and it is great because this is my last year of youth hockey. It’s sad that is coming to end but it would definitely be great to end on a high note. I’ve never scored this many goals in a season. Right now everything is clicking and it starts with my linemates Matt Argentina, Eddie Evaldi and Felix Turcotte. They have really been helping me out.”
Now, he and his teammates would like to close out the season with a sixth straight county title.
“I think they are all enjoying it right now.,” McNally said. “Playing Princeton High is I think what they hoped they would have. It should be pretty good.”