Freshman on a hunt for goals

Mitch Hunt leads the EWU hockey team in points with 23


Bailey Monteith

Freshman Mitch Hunt weaves through Oregon defenders on Oct. 5. Hunt leads the hockey team with 23 points.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

Mitch Hunt is a freshman, but you wouldn’t know it watching him play center for the EWU hockey team.

“He doesn’t act like a freshman,” EWU head coach Pat Hanlon said.

Hunt leads the team in scoring so far this season with 23 points. In ten games played, he has scored 11 goals and tallied 12 assists, a total that is in the top 25 nationwide among Division II hockey.

Hunt scored a hat trick on Oct. 13 in an Eagles’ win over Western Washington.

“He works well with his linemates,” Hanlon said. “He’s pretty opportunistic, got a little bit of an extra gear.”

Though Hunt is new to EWU, the game of hockey has been a presence for nearly his entire life. He started skating at the age of three on a family ski trip at Sun Peaks Resort in British Columbia when he and his dad, Craig, visited the community skate rink. He started playing hockey shortly after.

“They all went skiing and I said, ‘You know what, I want to skate’,” Hunt said. “I had no idea what I was doing, but [thought] this was the best thing on Earth. […] I started playing hockey at four or five, and haven’t stopped yet. I’m here.”

Hunt played minor hockey in Seattle growing up. He wanted to stay close to home while playing.

“I didn’t really move away since I wanted to stay at home and graduate with my friends,” Hunt said. “It was more about school than hockey, but [I] still played at the highest level possible.”

When Hunt was 17, he moved up to play junior hockey for the Seattle Totems, a decision he called “the best move of his life.”

“We weren’t very good, but playing against stronger teams really helped me improve as a player and a person,” Hunt said.

Halfway through the Totems’ season and prior to coming to EWU, Hunt was traded from Seattle to the Lake Tahoe Icemen. Hunt took the move in stride.

“I couldn’t think of a better four months in my life,” Hunt said. “The team was great, the host family was great, everybody there didn’t like me when I was in Seattle but brought me in as a teammate.”

When Hunt was eligible for college hockey, EWU wasn’t originally on his radar. However, the Icemen folded for a season, so Hunt saw that as an opportunity to come to Cheney after being contacted by the hockey staff.

“[EWU] wasn’t really on my spectrum of teams,” Hunt said. “My coach in Tahoe was pushing DIII and NCAA. But [EWU] contacted me and said ‘Hey, we play hockey. We may not be the best team but it’s all about rebuilding.’ I’ve been doing that my whole life, and it started to click.”

Hunt plays center for the Eagles, which brings a variety of responsibilities.

“Positionally, I gotta win faceoffs and help in the corner,” Hunt said. “[I] do anything to get the puck out of our zone and into the other zone where hopefully we go down and score.”

Despite being a freshman, Hunt considers himself to be a leader on the team, partly due to his wide range of experience on the ice.

Bailey Monteith
Hunt receives the puck against Oregon on Oct. 5. Hunt scored two goals in the Eagles 3-2 win over the Ducks.

“Coming in, I wanted to have the same role I did playing juniors and [at] Tahoe,” Hunt said. “Being a leader, I may be a freshman but I know what’s going on and [having] played at one of the higher levels, it helped me move locations a lot easier. […] I want to help guys around me get better, help the team get better.”

In a game against the Oregon Ducks on Oct. 5, Hunt helped lead an EWU comeback in a 3-2 victory, which was a noteworthy performance to his coach.

“What impressed me in the Oregon game,” Hanlon said, “Oregon’s a bit better than other teams we play. [But] he was still in there, battling and scrapping.”

Hunt lists the win over Oregon as one of his favorite moments at EWU thus far. Sweeping the Washington Huskies in Seattle was also noteworthy to him.

“Playing in Seattle, in my home rink, having all my family there was pretty cool,” Hunt said.

Another factor that has helped Hunt acclimate to the college environment has been his teammates. He said that it was important for him to quickly bond with his teammates, and they have been nothing but welcoming.

“The first week I was here, I stayed with Felix [Allard],” Hunt said. “I didn’t really have a place to stay, and a couple guys said ‘Hey, come on in and stay.’ That was huge, having the guys bring me in. […] I wanted to get close with those guys first, they’ve been here for four years and know about the hockey, the school, the town […] I don’t have a bad relationship with anyone on the team.”

This season, EWU is off to an 8-1 start, having most recently won a road game at Montana Tech. Hunt believes that the team can reach lofty goals, but said taking it a game at a time is important.

“[My] short-term goals [are] win the weekend,” Hunt said. “Don’t worry about anything down the road, just focus on this week. This year, being a pretty strong team, I have faith in us. I feel like the guys […] are pushing for a championship at the end of the year, to go to regionals and even nationals. That’s been a goal of mine in every season I’ve played.”

Hunt and the Eagles look to continue their winning ways next weekend on Oct. 26 as they host Washington State. The puck drops at 7 p.m. at the URC. Admission is free to students and $5 for the general public.