HALLOWELL — The Black Tigers girls hockey co-operative team held its first practice Tuesday with plenty of optimism, despite a contractual impasse between the Maine Principals’ Association and the Maine chapter of the National Ice Hockey Officials Association that has jeopardized the season.

The Black Tigers — a co-op comprised of players from Winslow, Gardiner, Cony, Messalonskee, Erskine Academy, Lawrence, Maranacook and Mt. Blue — worked through a variety of drills at the Camden National Bank Ice Vault.

“We’re pretty excited (to get started),” Black Tigers senior goalie Emma Michaud said.

Girls hockey teams can play games beginning Nov. 25, but on-ice game officials are not yet under contract for the 2022-23 season.

Late last month, the Maine NIHOA chapter rejected a three-year contract that would have called for officials to receive a per-game increase from $78 last winter to $82 this school year. Officials are seeking an increase to $90 per game.

There are indications the two sides were working toward an agreement, although nothing was finalized Tuesday.


Black Tigers coach Bill Boardman said Tuesday the team is preparing for a regular season to begin on time.

“I could not imagine going this season without officials or without a season after what these kids have been through with COVID,” he said. “(The players) were starting to get nervous and truly, I was getting a little bit nervous as well. Both sides seemed to have dug their heels as far as labor negotiations go. Certainly, I had hoped they would come together and do what’s right for student-athletes at the hockey level. It would have been tough for them to watch their peers play basketball, but not the sport that they love.”

Katie Berard, left, shoots on goalie Emma Michaud during a scrimmage at the first practice of the season for the Winslow/Gardiner/Cony/Messalonskee/Lawrence/Erskine/Maranacook/Mt. Blue girls hockey team Tuesday the Camden National Bank Ice Vault in Hallowell. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Added Michaud: “They better make this work.”

The Black Tigers finished 7-8-0 last season, falling 4-3 to St. Dominic/Gray-New Gloucester/Winthrop/Monmouth in double overtime in a Class A North quarterfinal game. Although the Black Tigers lost two of their top players — Kaylyn Bourque transferred to Kents Hill and Jordin Williams joined the new Penobscot Pioneers co-op in northern Maine — they’ve added nine freshmen and feature a roster of 26 players.

Players and coaches said Tuesday they are excited to be back on the ice.

“COVID started our freshman year, so we had half a season,” Black Tigers senior defenseman Kylie Boardman said. “If we got robbed of another season, I was going to be like, so upset. This is our senior year, we need this. We just needed it to end on a positive note, not with nothing. … To see so many girls participating is awesome. Just to get the program and girls hockey under its feet is amazing.”


Added Michaud on the deep roster: “It gives us a chance for some of our more inexperienced people, they can get into a game maybe a little bit more than they would if we didn’t have 26 girls. It’ll be good for them to get more experience.”

The team’s strength this season will come behind the blue line, with Michaud in net. Kylie Boardman and Evelyn Rousseau lead a talented group of defensemen.

Bill Boardman said the rise in numbers is a reflection of the team’s success last year.

“Some people said we might have been the best .500 team they’ve seen in some time,” Boardman said. “We were very pleased with last year, but people are expecting us to take that next step this year.”

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