HALLOWELL — Drills and  introductions.

That was the agenda on the first day of practice for the the Black Tigers — the girls hockey team with players from Gardiner, Cony, Messalonskee, Winslow, Lawrence and now Brewer — on Tuesday at the Camden National Bank Ice Vault.

“It’s good (to be back on the ice), it’s exciting,” said Winslow junior Emma Michaud. “We’ll hopefully have some crowds at our games, so things might be a little more exciting than last year. It kind of got boring at times with no fans.”

Ice hockey teams played in crowd-less rinks last season during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s wonderful, it’s exciting,” said Bill Boardman, the Black Tigers’ new head coach. “It’s better than I thought it would be, to be honest with you, getting out there, just the feel of the ice. It’s been really good.”

The Black Tigers managed to play only a handful of games last season. That will change this year, the closest it has come to a normal hockey season in two years.

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“(The fans) bring a lot of energy to us,” Gardiner junior Kylie Boardman said. “We’re kind of playing for them, showing them what we can do.”

“I know it was a big thing last year for our seniors,” Michaud added. “Their parents couldn’t come watch, and it sucked. I know our senior (Audrey Sheridan), she wouldn’t want that to happen. We’re just hoping to get fans back in here.”

Winslow/Gardiner/Cony/Lawrence/ Messalonskee/Brewer girls hockey goalie Emma Michaud blocks a shot during the team’s first practice of the season on Tuesday at The Camden National Bank Ice Vault in Hallowell. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Indeed, Sheridan, a senior from Messalonskee, not only is excited about the return of fans, but hopes all six schools get involved with games.

“I was hoping we could get a jumbo student section with all of the schools at once,” Sheridan said. “One big group. That would be the goal.”

On Tuesday, players took part in conditioning and shooting drills throughout practice, all while wearing masks under their face shields. Although players were masked last season, some said Tuesday it’s still an adjustment.

“I hate it,” Michaud said.

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Players also took time near the beginning of practice to get to know one another, not an unusual practice for a co-op team. About 16 players were on ice, with one new member — freshman Jordin Williams — representing Brewer as the sixth and newest school.

“It’s kind of scary (to meet everybody) at first, but they’re all really nice,” Williams said.

Winslow/Gardiner/Cony/Lawrence/ Messalonskee/Brewer girls hockey players work through a drill during practice Tuesday at The Camden National Bank Ice Vault in Hallowell. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Bill Boardman, who is also the general manager of the Ice Vault, getting the team acclimated with each other is an early goal.

“For us, it’s trying to bring the girls together, trying to build some kind of team camaraderie with six different schools, now introducing Brewer into the program this year,” Boardman said. “They’ve discovered that they know (some of the other players) from travel softball. It’ll come together quickly. The other pieces are conditioning. We want to make sure that we’re well conditioned. That’s something where we’ve been beat in past seasons is the conditioning piece with teams like Lewiston, St. Dom’s, teams like that.”

Players are confident it won’t take long for the group to get adjusted to one another.

“About a week,” Kylie Boardman said. “We get pretty talkative in the locker room. We’re not really shy. It’s like, ‘hey, who are you? What do you like?’ To get to know each other.”

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Dave Dyer – 621-5640

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Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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