Hun shows improvement early

Plumeri helps Raiders tie PDS, top Landon

By: Justin Feil
   Through last year’s ups and downs of a near-.500 season, the Hun School ice hockey team always knew things were going to get better.
   "Last year, we tried to focus on that season, but we knew it would be a strong year for us this year," said Peter Plumeri. "It took a couple weeks of practice and a couple games, but after that it was like playing like it was last year except everyone is bigger and stronger and faster."
   After opening the year with a loss at the hands of Pingry, Hun rebounded with a 4-4 tie against Princeton Day School on Thursday followed by a 4-3 win over Landon School on Friday. Those efforts showed why this year’s Raiders team expects to improve on last year’s 10-11-1 season.
   "We have pretty much the same team as last year," said Plumeri, a defenseman. "We had two seniors last year, one defenseman and one goalie. We pretty much have the same core group of kids as last year. I think this year we could go pretty far. We have a good work ethic and we’re getting better."
   It figures to be a key year for Plumeri and the Raiders. While they return the majority of the team from last year, Hun will not be able to say the same next season. Other than Plumeri, the sophomores and a pair of freshman, there won’t be much returning.
   "I’m the only junior on the team," Plumeri said. "At class pictures, I’m the only kid to go out there for juniors."
   It puts even more of an emphasis on this season. The Raiders can be encouraged by the start they have had. Travis Potts, in his first season of significant action for Hun, stopped 54 shots in the tie against PDS. The next day, freshman Jeff Holbrook stopped 27 shots.
   "The third period was the same situation both games," said Plumeri, a defenseman who had a goal and assist against Landon. "With three or four minutes to go, we were up 4-2. In the PDS game, we took a penalty and were shorthanded and gave up a goal with a couple minutes to go. We played 5-on-4 and then with a minute to play, we played 6-on-5 when they pulled their goalie. They scored with like 30 seconds left. The last game we were up 4-2 and we held on."
   The tie against PDS might have felt like a loss given that Hun had surrendered two goals in the final minute and a half. But it was hard to be discouraged by a rare result.
   "Normally with any other team, it would be," said Hun head coach Francois Bourbeau, whose team faces Bishop Eustace today. "But since it’s PDS, I’ll still take it. We played so hard and so well. I’m still happy with a tie. I think since I’ve been there, that’s the first time we came so close to winning. It’s the first time in 11 years that we even tied PDS. I’m still happy. I would have felt better with a win, but I’m still happy with a tie."
   The Hun players also understood the significance of topping the defending Prep B state champions, who earlier in the week had beaten defending public state champion Randolph. The Raiders know they had a good chance to beat the Panthers.
   "Immediately after the game, we were pretty upset because they came back and scored two goals late to tie us," Plumeri said. "But then we realized it was the first time in 10 years we had played that well against them. To tie PDS was a great accomplishment for our team.
   "That was our first real game. We had one scrimmage against Princeton High School when we were trying some things and then our first game was against Pingry. We lost, 5-1, but it was the first game we played as a team. To come back and do that well against a great team like PDS bodes well. We’re starting to become a better team."
   Plumeri figures to help the Raiders keep improving. The Lumberton resident is in his second season playing defense. Originally a center on his club team, the Flyers Youth 16 AA team, he has filled a void that was left a little deeper with the graduation of Brendan Ryan.
   "If I had a lot of players, it would help to play him on offense," Bourbeau said. "He could score goals. He’s one of my main keys on defense. He knew at the start I’d try to put him on offense. But we don’t have enough guys there. He knew he was a better asset on defense."
   Plumeri is happy to help the Raiders any way he can. While he can still add scoring as he showed against Landon, he has settled into his role as a defensive player for Hun.
   "I played defense for games in the past," he said, "but not for whole seasons. If a kid gets hurt in club, I can fill in. I’ve always been defensive-minded so the transition wasn’t that hard.
   "Last year, we really didn’t have any D," he added. "Coach Bourbeau asked me to go back and play D. I’d do anything as long as we were winning. Anything to help the team win is fine with me."
   Plumeri is more comfortable back on defense after a full season under his belt. He is helping to strengthen a defense that looks to have strong goaltending behind it with Potts and Holbrook. Potts was solid against PDS; Holbrook was equal to the task in his first career start.
   "Travis played really well," Bourbeau said. "He made all the saves he needed to and even the big ones. He was one of the reasons we were in the game all the way through. Everyone played well. He stood on his head.
   "Jeff Holbrook, he’s a freshman. I wanted to try him. I promised him the Landon game. I know Travis did well. I promised him and he did well. I’m in a great position to have a really good 1-2 combination. Travis may have a little more of the edge. He’s been doing well and been here since last year. If Jeff keeps showing me great things, I may have good things in the net."
   The Raiders needed solid goaltending in their last two games, but Plumeri thinks that Hun will tighten up in the back in the coming games.
   "PDS, they got a lot of shots," Plumeri said. "Travis played well and the offense gave lots of help. The D played well but it will get better. The whole team is going to get a lot better."
   The Raiders’ last two games are closer to what they expected of themselves this season. Older, faster and stronger, the Raiders figure to be much improved this year. A tie against PDS and a win over Landon make for a solid starting point