Milford High still has hopes for hockey program
Will Milford High School eventually have a hockey program, be it a co-op team or otherwise, sometime in the next few years?
It certainly looks like it will, but it won’t be happening right away.
Milford athletic director Marc Maurais was charged by the Milford School Board to investigate the possibility, including co-op options, as several parents have expressed an interest at board meetings. There is currently an inaugural Souhegan Valley Middle School team that has players from the general Milford-Amherst area. There is a Facebook group, “Souhegan Valley Middle School Hockey” established as well that currently has 76 members. The team roster has as many as 21 players, mainly ages 12-13. So its conceivable that in the next two to three years there will be enough high school age players in Milford to form at least a co-op team with another school.
“There’s been interest in the past, but not enough for a full team,” Maurais said. “You talk about the finances, that’s very important. But I would say that with this current school board, there is more of a receptive climate to consider adding more additional things (programs).”
Maurais cited the fact that girls lacrosse will make its varsity debut this spring, although a head coach has yet to be hired. “We’re still advertising,” he said.”
Maurais reported extensively in writing to the board the co-op options that are currently extremely limited. Why? Souhegan and Nashua North, as well as Pelham and Nashua South, have extended their agreements two more years after this current one, which means through the 2019-20 seasons. Other potential partners are also set through that time – Manchester Central/West as well as Hollis Brookline/Derryfield.
Maurais told the board recently in writing that he attempted to try to find a school to co-op with and was unable to secure a commitment for as soon as next season. His last contact came with Manchester Memorial, but that “Manchester Memorial also indicated that their projected number of players for next year will allow them to continue as a stand-alone program.”
Obviously, it would be more beneficia l for Milford, in terms of expenses and numbers, to co-op rather than go it alone. Maurais said he’ll keep exploring what’s out there. It’s possible something could get done at least on the junior varsity level.
“I intend to contact schools again in February to see if there are any changes,” Maurais said. “If there is no other school to work with for the 2018-19 year to form a varsity cooperative team, I will have to consider contacting large Division I schools. This would be to consider the idea if any schools would want to form a junior varsity cooperative team.”
The obstacles are there, but the interest is obvious. There has been a groundswell of support in Milford the last few years, but now the numbers seem to be increasing on the youth/middle school level.
“It’s kids, and its access to ice facility that is so difficult to find,” Maurais said.
Milford girls rebuilding
As recently as four years ago, Milford had one of the area’s better girls basketball teams. But since, the Spartans have struggled not only to get wins, but also with numbers.
Maurais was definitely concerned about its future until this year eight freshmen joined the program.
Still, there’s only 14 players on the varsity and JV combined. What happened?
“Even during those times, we attracted and were able to keep the very good all around athlete,” Maurais said, “but not necessarily basketball players. You’re seeing more of that all-around athlete specializing in those (other) sports, here, that do very well. Soccer, softball, and track, and they left basketball.
“Last year we made it through JV and varsity with 17 total. A foreign exchange student, and girl from Brazil. You take those away, and graduation, basically we returned most of the people we should have expected. But we’re not keeping that overall athlete.”
But Maurais said that the young players give the program better projections for the future.
“I’m so happy with the group right now,” Maurais said. “If we can keep this 14 group together and healthy, I think we’re going to see (an upswing). The middle school numbers look promising.”
Years ago, Maurais said he felt a program number of 24 would be sufficient. Now he says he’d settle for 20 or just under.
BG hoop teams in
The Christmas tourney season, weather permitting, gets off to an early start this weekend with both the Bishop Guertin boys and girls basketball teams competing in the Commonwealth Motors Classic.
The Cardinal boys, seeded eighth, take on Central Catholic on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Methuen High School. A win either puts them in the semis or the consolation round on Wednesday, Dec. 27 with the finals on Friday, Dec. 29.
Central Catholic is the top seed, followed by Lawrence, St. John’s Prep, Methuen to round out the top four.
The bottom four begin with fifth seed North Andover, then Andover, Londonderry, and No. 8 BG.
In case you missed it, the Cards dropped their season opener to Concord on Thursday, 50-41, with sophomore Tommy Fontanella leading the way with 11 points. It’s a young Cardinal team.
The girls also play on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. vs. Londonderry, but that tournament will be at Central Catholic. BG, which lost in last year’s tourney finals, is actually the top seed. The semis would be on Dec. 28 and the finals next Saturday, Dec. 30. How does Cards coach Brad Kreick feel about being the top seed?
“I don’t know, I guess I’d rather be the two seed (which they were last year),” Kreick said. “You’ve just got to go play.”
Central Catholic, Andover, North Andover, Westford, Londonderry and Winnacunnet are also in the event.
Kreick obviously would rather play a team he doesn’t see in the Cards’ regular season.
“You do, ideally if I were making the schedule, it would be nice not to play a New Hampshire team,” Kreick said. “But it should be a really good tournament. We lost in the final last year, and the two losses we had to Bedford early (in the regular season) and to Andover in the Christmas tournament were probably the best learning experiences we had.” .”all year.”
“For us, it’s consistent with our theme, try to play real good teams early, work out the kinks, figure out who we are, grow up a little bit, and try to get to the second half of the season healthy.”
After BG, Westford is the second seed, followed by Central Catholic, Andover, No. 5 North Andover, Pentucket, Winnacunnet and No. 8 Londonderry.