“We were really determined to win the final knowing that it was the last game for the school in an environment where a decent amount of students and family are present,” Hunter Stent recalls of the mood before the Premier I hockey final between Wellington College and Paraparaumu College.
Despite being reigning champions, Wellington wasn’t the favourite to prevail, having been thumped 6-1 by their opposition a few weeks earlier.
“We tried to forget about that result because we had played them a few times before and the results had been closer. The seniors were really driving the will and game plan to succeed,” Stent explains.
Wellington held Paraparaumu to 1-1 in regulation time and with 40 seconds left in 7 versus 7 extra time Marco Brown scored a golden goal to win Wellington the title for the fourth time in six years.
“We’ve had a really good run, but this season wasn’t going so well until that result. We have a lot of young guys and are rebuilding so to win P1 was really special,” Stent acclaims.
Wellington will be forced to rebuild without Stent in 2018, leaving a massive hole in experience. Hunter was the first player in seven years and among a select few to play over 100 games for Wellington College.
“It’s possible to reach 100 games now because we play between 25 and 30 fixtures a season, but even so it's pretty special to think I have played 100 games. I have a lot of great memories,” Stent acclaims.
Hunter’s first game was in Year 9 and he hit the post with his first shot. In Year 10 and 11 he was a striker and a prolific goal scorer alongside Daniel Harris who has been selected in several New Zealand teams.
“Daniel was a great player for us. It was a privilege to play alongside him and I learned a lot from watching him,” Stent praises.
In 2015, Wellington was Premier I champions and finished fourth at the Rankin Cup with Harris scoring 52 goals.
Another fond memory was in 2014 when Stent was a member of the Wellington under-15 side who had to come from behind to beat North Harbour on strokes in the final of the National tournament. It was Wellington’s first win in the event since sharing the title with Auckland in 2004, and it was the first outright win for Wellington since 1997. What’s more Wellington was the only unbeaten team at the event while every other team lost at least twice and Stent was the leading goalscorer, with 11.
Stent played his last three seasons in the midfield. In 2016 he helped Wellington reach the quarterfinals of the Rankin Cup where they were eliminated by eventual winners St Paul’s Collegiate in a controversial fashion. Stent explains what happened.
“It was 1-1 with about five minutes to go when St Paul’s scored a goal to get into the lead. I didn’t see it at the time, but watching it later on video the St Paul’s player touched the ball with his hand. It was unfortunate to lose that way, but who knows what would've happened in extra time?”
This year at Nationals, Wellington was beaten in the final of the India Trophy (second tier) by Saint Kentigern College.
Shortly a hockey honours board will be built at Wellington College. After a fine century Stent is bound to be one of the first names printed.
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