Forward or defense, win or lose, Reese Hunt is happy to be back on the ice.
Hunt chipped in a goal from the blue line Saturday night that kept the game close, but his Palmer Terrors fell 6-4 to Woodland Park at The Broadmoor World Arena Ice Hall. Minor, in the grand scheme of things.
Hunt was diagnosed with testicular cancer that spread to his lungs, and he missed most of his freshman year at Palmer, dressing out once with the wild support of his teammates. Ruled cancer-free, he was all over the ice Saturday as the Terrors returned from a holiday break.
“I take positives out of it more than I can think of negatives,” Hunt, now a sophomore, said of facing adversity.
“It makes me appreciate everybody - coaches, teammates. At one point I didn’t think I was ever going to play hockey again. I’m still here.”
Hunt is now chewing up minutes in all situations on the Terrors’ defense after starting the year at forward. Coach Kevin Moore moved him back to make use of his versatility.
“He’s definitely our strongest defenseman at the moment,” Moore said. “Very smart player. We’re glad to have him back this year.”
Palmer (2-6, 0-3 Apex Conference) got off to a hot start Saturday, scoring twice in the first 4:45, but Woodland Park evened it up before the period break.
Woodland Park (3-5, 2-1 Apex) scored three unanswered in the second period from Trace Taranto, Mikael Romero and Owen Gaul to make it 5-3 after Palmer got into penalty trouble. Hunt sent the Terrors into the third period down only by a goal, pinching in and firing for his second of the season.
“It was just sitting there. It was nothing special,” Hunt said. “I think having the aspects of a forward too really helps.”
The Terrors stayed disciplined and pressed for the equalizer in the third period, then pulled goaltender Sean Boldoc as time ran out. But the puck ricocheted off limbs and the end boards until Woodland Park’s Lou Levy scored an empty-netter with eight seconds left. Levy finished with a goal and two assists to lead the Panthers. Teammate Bobby Costello finished with 20 saves.
William Stone (2 assists) Zack Swain (1 goal, 1 assist) and Joseph Van Dyk (1 goal, 1 assists) paced the Terrors. Bolduc made 36 saves.
It didn’t go the Terrors’ way, but they’ll move on. The guy wearing No. 10 will savor it regardless.
“It’s really been my whole life. I’ve played since I was four years old,” Hunt said. “Getting back on has been great. I’ve never loved the game more than I do now.”