A new day is dawning at The Hun School. Come Thursday afternoon at the stroke of 4, at the Ice Land Skating Center in Hamilton Township, N.J, the Raiders will embark on their first season of conference play in the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference. St. Joseph’s Prep will provide the opposition.
The Raiders started their season this past weekend in Western Pennsylvania at the Shady Side Academy tournament where they won three of four games.
Hun School is no stranger to the schools in the APAC, it has competed regularly against conference members in non-league games in seasons past. They are also members, along with La Salle, in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League.
Ian McNally, Hun School’s veteran coach, is familiar with the APAC’s history. “When they started this league, I kind of knew what it was,” he said, “but I caught up last year with (La Salle coach Wally Muhelbronner) more about it.”
McNally, who played college hockey at Princeton, says that membership in the APAC makes the regular season more meaningful.
“Previous to the Mid-Atlantic League, we were just playing a selection of games,” he said. “Just schedule 20 games and you play them. It’s great, but it’s hard to get up for everything for the kids. Sometimes there wasn’t the same amount of emphasis put on playing well and getting the win each time.
“I think that was the goal, to try to have our schedule be all meaningful games. We’d go play Malvern on a Wednesday afternoon but for either team, it wasn’t necessarily the biggest game of the year. So, we’ll have those same games and they’ll all be more meaningful and impactful. I think for the kids, it’s a big benefit to feel like there’s (three) points on the line each game.”
The Hun School is unique among the APAC membership. It is the first coeducational school in the conference and has boarding students. Also, the school starts its hockey season later than the other conference members to avoid having it overlap with fall sports. But it is committed to putting a quality hockey team on the ice while remaining committed to academic excellence.
“We’re not looking to be a hockey factory,” McNally said, “but we do have strong hockey kids and have a competitive hockey team, so having likeminded schools to play against, it means something. It was a pretty easy ‘Yes’ for us (to joining the APAC) and I hope it was an easy ‘Yes’ for them to want us in the league as well.”
A number of Hun School players are presently playing club hockey but some played other sports for their school this fall.
“Half our team has been here but not been playing hockey,” McNally said. Some of them played football or soccer for Hun or ran cross country.
So, not only are we catching up that way but there’s kids that haven’t played since whenever they last played at their home. Maybe when they left in August or whatever so we’ll see.
“I think we’ll be fine and the difference I think for us is once we start, we skate every day so we’ll probably catch up, in terms of hours on the ice, pretty quick.”
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