Hun School 1 St Joseph’s Prep 0 (sh)

Hamilton Township, N.J.—High-school hockey doesn’t any better than this, from a goaltending point of view. Stephen Chen (Hun School) and Ajay White (St. Joseph’s Prep) were letter perfect in their Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference matchup Thursday afternoon at Ice Land. For 51 minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime the two were impregnable. Chen, a junior, stopped 34 shots while White, a sophomore, turned aside 32.

The Raiders’ Riley Frost was able to put a puck over White’s left shoulder in the bottom of the third round of a shootout to give his team a 1-0 in its first APAC game in school history.

For his part, Chen tried to focus on the task at hand. “It was an awesome experience for sure,” he said, “but I think the focus was just to win the game, focus on the next shot, and enjoy the moment.”

White was the losing goaltender on the scoresheet, simply because there had to be a winner. But their were no flaws to be found in his performance. “That was fun to watch,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for (Chen). He stole the game for them. He made a lot of big saves. It’s a fun atmosphere to play in.”

Despite the scoreline, it was not an easy afternoon for either netminder. Both were challenged often but came up big repeatedly.

As the game wore on, Chen focused on maintaining his concentration. “There are moments when thoughts pop into your mind,” he said, “but as a goaltender, the most important thing is to have a free mind and just stay in the zone and concentrate on the next shot.”

White embraced the challenge of matching his opponent’s performance at the other end of the ice. “I like competition,” he said. “It’s always fun. I think it definitely helps.”

St. Joseph’s Prep coach David Giacomin noted his team had quality chances but Chen took them away. “We were preaching to the kids just to keep putting pressure on him,” he said, “and keep getting shots to the net. We had some wide open shots where his leg came out of nowhere or a glove came out of nowhere.

‘I think it was probably about eight of them that we counted that the puck should have been in the net, but he found a way to get to that spot and stole it from us. He played a phenomenal hockey game and so did our guy.”

Hun School’s Ryan Croddick battles opponents for the puck in Thursday’s game (Robert Barnes)

For Hun School coach Ian McNally, Thursday’s encounter was a new experience. “I’ve never been part of a 0-0 game at this level,” he said. “That was stressful. And frustrating, because you go through a period without scoring, and then you try to talk about what you can do to score and then you go through another period with scoring.

“You try a different strategy, different lines and nothing’s working. It was exciting and stressful all at the same time.”

Ice Chips—With the win, Hun School improves to 4-2 overall. The Hawks now stand at 2-3-1 (0-2 in the APAC). The game featured six minor penalties, three against each team.

St. Joseph’s Prep 0 0 0 0 (0)

Hun School 0 0 0 0 (1)—1

Shootout goal: Riley Frost (HS)

Shots: SJP 34, Hun School 32; Saves: A.J. White (SJP) 32, Stephen Chen (HS) 34

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