No hockey for Cavs this year

After much speculation, school administrators confirmed Wednesday that the Hollis Brookline High School varsity ice hockey season has been canceled after only eight skaters and one goalie turned out.

But, according to Hollis Brookline interim superintendent John Moody and New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Executive Director Pat Corbin, there are hopes that the program can piece together a junior varsity season.

“I asked Ron (athletic director Rup) and (Cavs coach Ken DiCredico) to look at any other options to get these kids together as a team, so they’re looking at that now,” Moody said. “We know we can’t play varsity, but what can we play – they’re looking into it.

“They (the players) have two losses, their friend and now their passion.”

Moody referred to car accident late Monday night that claimed the life of senior Cam Ricard. Ricard had been playing junior hockey, but reportedly was strongly considering returning to play for his high school team.

“Hopefully, we’re still keeping the program going,” DiCredico said on Wednesday. “Let’s keep these boys together and somehow help them through this tragedy.”

Ricard’s death and the cancellation of the program, according to Moody, are totally unrelated. Officials, concerned about player safety after such a low turnout since preseason practices began more than a week ago, decided Monday afternoon to pull the plug.

The team was scheduled to open its season Dec. 18 against defending state champion John Stark/Hopkinton.

Monday, athletic director Ron Rupp notified the NHIAA that the school would not field an ice hockey team, and the NHIAA sent out an email later that day to alerting Division III athletic directors that they should remove Hollis Brookline from their schedules. If they want to fill the open dates, they have until Friday to do so.

DiCredico, who wanted to wait a few more days in hopes of more players trying out, was instructed to tell the players at practice on Monday that the season was gone. However, all after-school activities were canceled due to inclement weather.

According to Moody, school officials made the decision to inform the players and parents at a meeting held Tuesday afternoon, called mainly to deal with Ricard’s passing for fear that they would find out about the season’s cancellation from outside sources.

“The reason for making the (cancellation) announcement yesterday was the fact the NHIAA and other coaches had been notified,” Moody said. “We didn’t want players or parents to hear about it from somewhere else.

“It was well intentioned, but ill-timed.”

At the same time, according to Moody and other sources, some student athletes who had not come out for the team changed their mind and Tuesday said they wanted to play as a way to honor Ricard’s memory. Rupp spoke with Corbin late Tuesday to see if the schedule and program could be restored but Corbin said it was too late.

“The damage had been done because the NHIAA and other coaches had already been notified,” Moody said. “We couldn’t reverse the decision.”

“I frankly denied it,” Corbin said Tuesday. “My concern was we had already set the (rescheduling process) in motion. But, more important, it was for student safety.

“Plus, I didn’t want it to be two weeks into the season and then these kids decide that they didn’t want to play. Then you’d have forfeitures and all of that.”

Corbin said he offered a compromise.

“Even though the numbers would only be 12 or 13, I asked Ron if it would help keep these kids engaged if he could come up with a JV schedule,” Corbin said.

Sources say that Cyclones Arena, where the Cavaliers practice and play their games, would hold onto the Cavs’ ice time for now. The only other impediment is whether the players and parents, and the Hollis Brookline Hockey Booster Club, responsible for fund raising that greatly finances the program, would allow those funds to be used for a JV team. DiCredico said earlier in the week that the cost per player is on average $500.

Moody said the double dose of tragic news has been tough on the players, coaches and parents.

“I was impressed with their candor, and I understood their passion and anger,” he said.

“We had two things going on simultaneously and those two things are totally incompatible. We had a confluence of two situations coming together at once.”

Staff Writer Dean Shalhoup contributed to this report.