The high school boys hockey landscape is changing again this year with the addition of another co-operative program. And this one will shake things up in central Maine.
Lawrence and Skowhegan merged this year, becoming the 13th co-operative program in boys hockey.
“We had talked last year because both of us had low numbers,” Lawrence athletic director Bill MacManus said. “We applied through the (Maine Principals’ Association), and it was a process. The MPA approved it so we are going forward.”
Ted Fabian will coach the team, which will compete in Eastern A and play its games at Sukee Arena.
MacManus added that the booster clubs from each school will meet next week to determine the team’s name and uniforms.
“We still have to work out some details,” MacManus said. “We’re going to try and have a (junior varsity) program as well. We’ll see. A lot still has to be worked out.”
The Bulldogs and Indians qualified for the playoffs in their respective conferences last season. Lawrence finished 6-13-0 and reached the quarterfinals of the Eastern B playoffs. Skowhegan, meanwhile, went 12-6-1 and made the Eastern A quarterfinals.
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The girls hockey season opens today with first official practices and Winslow will skate at Sukee Arena at 4:55 p.m.
“We’re ready,” Winslow coach Chris Downing said. “We’ve got some good, young players coming out. We’ll see what happens when we step on the ice (today).”
The Black Raiders finished 5-11-3 lasts season and qualified for the East Division playoffs. Goalie Jess Cain, as well as forwards Paige Veilleux, Brooke Roy and Brenna O’Connell, is one of several key returners.
“We’re excited,” Downing said. “We did some summer hockey so we’re ready.”
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Andy Dube wasn’t out of a job long.
Four months after resigning from what was then the Maranacook/Hall-Dale/Winthrop co-operative program, Dube will take over the Winslow boys this season.
Dube replaces Corey Lessard, who resigned this summer after nine seasons.
“I jumped all over it,” Dube said. “I parted ways with MHW and when I saw the job advertised for Winslow, I decided I’d look into it. Honestly, I thought I’d take a year off and then see what opened up. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.”
Dube lives in Mount Vernon but works as an engineer in Gardiner. He coached the MHW Hawks for three years, leading them to playoffs each season.
Dube said he’s going into the season with open eyes and eager to improve a team that’s struggled in the last few seasons in Eastern B.
“I don’t know anyone,” he said. “I don’t know any players or the parents. But I talked to a lot of people and learned some history. I just want to jump right into it and hopefully it will work out.”
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Longtime Maranacook youth hockey coach Chip Jones will lead the Maranacook/Winthrop co-op this season.
Jones, 38, of Manchester, served as an assistant to Dube last year at MHW. Hall-Dale, citing low numbers, dropped from the co-op this year. Maranacook/Winthrop will compete in new-look Western B this season.
Jones has never held a varsity coaching job, but is confident he can continue the program’s winning ways.
“I coached Maranacook youth hockey for 11 or 12 years,” he said. “I’ve coached 95 percent of the players who are on the team at some point. I’m ready to go. The season can’t come fast enough.”
Jones added he’ll emphasize a more disciplined style of hockey with the team this year.
“That’s what I prefer,” he said. “I like to take the game to the opponent but I demand a lot of my kids when it comes to disciplined play. I like to push my kids as hard as I can. We’ll be ready.”