Officials OK boys ice hockey

MILFORD – In less than a year, Milford students will head south to an ice rink in Tyngsborough, Mass., to begin hockey practice. The school board voted Feb. 19 to start a boys’ varsity hockey team with Hudson’s Alvirne High School.

Marc Maurais, Milford’s director of athletics, recommended Alvrine after what he called a long search for a school to partner with. The Hudson School Board approved the arrangement at the February meeting.

To be able to join a team that has a contract with an ice facility only 25 minutes away, “I found that very attractive,” Maurais said during an interview last week. He called the Alvirne-Milford co-op “a giant step forward.”

In his recommendation to the school board, Maurais wrote that the cooperative is “the only viable option for our students to play at the varsity level next season.”

When Maurais brought the proposal to the board last fall, he said the cost could be about $28,500 and finding ice time at a rink would be very difficult.

With Alvirne, the costs are split 50-50, and the Hudson school has a contract with the Skate 3 ice rink.

The total estimated cost to Milford – including its share of coaching stipends, transportation, uniforms and supplies – would be about $10,000, with students paying $800 each to cover ice time.

The season will start in November, and an estimated eight Milford and 11 Alvirne students will participate.

At the Milford board meeting, there were several parents and students who said they would be happy to pay the fee.

Students would be able to bring down their individual costs through fundraising, Maurais said, helping with Alvirne’s annual golf tournament and calendar raffle.

In his recommendation, Maurais wrote placement in Division 2 would be ideal, but it is more likely to be Division 1. Alvirne is currently in Division 2

“The higher level is a concern, playing against more talented, possibly older, stronger players. Parents I have spoken to share that feeling, but most are still supportive of allowing their child to play,” he wrote.

The partnership still needs the blessing of three New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association committees, but “I don’t foresee a problem,” Maurais said. “The state is seeing more and more co-op programs, “so I’m optimistic we will get the approvals.”

Board Chairman Ron Carvell said he is pleased the school will be able to offer a new sport.

“Anytime we give (students) an opportunity to do something new” it’s a good thing, he said, and “Maurais did a great job working on it.”

The board doesn’t like charging user fees, he said, but hockey is expensive, and $800 is significantly less than what kids who play for private clubs pay now.

Ordinarily, the board would have left the vote on something like this to the reorganized school board after the March elections, but to be able to have a program next winter required quick action, he said.

The board’s vote was 4-1, with Robert Willette dissenting.

Karen Bonney, Alvirne’s athletic director, said they are looking forward to joining with Milford.

With the school graduating seven senior hockey players, she said, its only options were to join with Milford or dissolve the program.

One more important decision about the partnership needs to be made: the colors the new team will play under.

The Spartan’s colors are navy and white, and Alvirne’s are maroon and “Vegas gold.”

Bonney said she’s been talking to a few vendors about blending them into a team color.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or