Thomas College crowned a champion this weekend. The men’s club hockey team went 9-0-1 over its final 10 games, including a sweep of all three games in its conference tournament.
You may not have heard about this because it is a team that compete at the club level.
T.J. Garske, who doubles as the school’s sports information director, coached the Terriers.
“Hockey’s been around here at Thomas for a number of years,” Garske said, “but it was mainly student-led. Once I noticed the talent that we had, I thought it was a good decision to grow the program.”
Garske played hockey at St. Joseph’s College and had a roster of 28 players this season. He says that’s a main reason the Terriers did so well in the Central Maine Collegiate Conference tournament, which is played in a double-elimination format. Thomas defeated Unity on Tuesday, UMaine-Farmington on Thursday, and UMF again by a 3-0 score in Saturday’s championship game at Sukee Arena. The Terriers outscored their opponents 17-1 in the tournament.
“In this league, depth is a huge factor,” Garske said. “We were able to run four lines evenly and really wear down the teams that were using two or three lines.”
Thomas joined the American Collegiate Hockey Association this season. The Terriers played an ACHA schedule for the first half of the season, then played their conference schedule the last half. The Terriers were 16-9-1 overall, including a 3-0-1 record against Colby’s club team.
“We come into the start of our conference schedule 10 games into our season and doing dry land work on top of that every week,” Garske said.
Garske said Thomas hopes to join the New England Collegiate Conference (part of the ACHA) next season and field a junior varsity team in the Central Maine Collegiate Conference. The Terriers had only one senior and 13 freshmen on their team this winter. One of those freshmen was goalie Tanner Brooks, who was in goal for all three tournament games, and another was Gardiner grad Mike Hersom, who led Thomas in scoring this season. Other top scorers for the Terriers were Garron LaFountain, Jason Dicey, and Eric Morin.
Garske said he has recruited some players to add even more depth next season, including Alex Nadeau, Gardiner’s captain this winter. Nadeau, a defenseman and forward, also had 13 points in 40 games for the Maine Moose juniors this season.
Garske believes ice hockey could potentially be a varsity sport at Thomas.
“I definitely could see it becoming a varsity (team),” Garske said. “I don’t have a timetable, but as we see how competitive we make this team it would be something they could look at in the future.”
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The University of Southern Maine seems to have cornered the market on local high school wrestlers. The Huskies had a fine season with contributions from Gardiner grad Dan Del Gallo and Mt. Blue grad Khalil Newbill. At the Northeast Regionals, Del Gallo, wrestling at 149 lbs., and Newbill, competing at 125, both ended up just short of All-Region honors and a trip to the NCAA championships. Del Gallo and Newbill each were 2-2 at regionals. Del Gallo lost a 4-3 decision in his final match, while Newbill lost by a 10-7 decision.
Del Gallo had an overall record of 20-8 this winter, with one of his highlights being the 149-lb. title at the North Atlantic Wrestling Championship, hosted by the University of New Hampshire. Del Gallo, who has a 4.0 grade-point average as a freshman and is majoring in Sociolgy/Philosophy, was named to the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association NCAA Scholar All-American Team.
Newbill, a Wilton native, had an overall record of 26-10 as a freshman this season. Newbill was not pinned in any of his losses and won six matches by pin.