First-year Red Hornets girls hockey coach Dana Berube watches a drill as players streak past during a recent practice at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
AUBURN — A familiar face but a different voice.
That’s what Dana Berube brings to the Edward Little/Leavitt/Poland girls’ hockey team.
Berube takes over for Shon Collins, who stepped away after five years leading the program and more than a decade involved in high school hockey. Now Collins’ volunteer assistant takes his place.
“Shon had brought me on board a couple years ago because we had coached many years together with our boys in youth hockey. I think at the time he was looking towards the future,” Berube said.
The future for Collins was this past spring, when he decided to finally step away. Now the future of the Red Hornets is in Berube’s hands.
“It’s very exciting. I haven’t been a head coach for several seasons, so it’s nice to kind of get back into that mode of running practices,” Berube said. “Even though I’ve been coaching for a while, the first day I was incredibly nervous because I wanted to make a good first impression with the girls. Things have gone great. They’re working hard, they’ve had a great attitude, they’ve been receptive to everything we’re trying to teach them. As a coach that’s really all I can look for.”
Berube being at the center of attention has been a welcome sight for the players.
“I think we all hoped Dana was going to be the coach. I really didn’t think that anyone else was going to do it besides him,” senior Sam Martineau said. “I think they’re similar in a lot of ways, but also different in the way they approach us sometimes.”
Aside from Berube still being there, making the transition as seamless as possible are returning assistants Larry Morin and Kris Bennett.
“It gives me some peace of mind because having Larry and Kris stay on board was the key to me putting my name in, because I really enjoy working with those guys and we got a good working relationship,” Berube said. “So that was key, and most of these girls I’ve coached at some point over their hockey career, so they’re familiar with what my expectations are.”
The biggest change from last season, according to Berube, will be the players in uniform and on the ice. The Red Hornets lost nine players from last year, so Berube will be tasked with bringing their replacements up to speed.
“This group is a much different group, so the approach has got to be much different than it’s been the last several years,” Berube said.
One of the players the Red Hornets lost will still be around, just not on the ice during games.
“The nice advantage we have is Saige Arsenault, who was a hell of a hockey player, can’t play anymore because of too many concussions, but we’ve brought her on as a team manager because it’s really important for her to be here. She’s missing the game,” Berube said. “I’ve coached Saige since she was five, so I can say a drill and she knows exactly what that drill is and knows where to set things up.”
“I think still having her around is good because she has a lot of positivity and she brings our team up,” said Martineau, a classmate of Arsenault’s. “But not having her on the ice, I think’s going to be pretty difficult for us, so that’s a big loss.”
A new face to the bench is assistant Anne McIntire, who played at St. Dominic Academy and Mt. Ararat in high school. Berube said McIntire has been a big help working with the program’s new players, who will be counted on as this season wears on and again in future seasons.
Both Berube and Martineau said they expect the team to be competitive this season, with playoffs an attainable goal.
But that’s a goal for another day. Berube’s objectives at the start of the season are more individual, in a sense.
“My goal right now is I’ve given them two rules: Show up with a good attitude and a good work ethic,” Berube said. “Then if they can do that then we can accept and learn and make our mistakes and kind of improve as the season goes along.”
First-year Red Hornets girls hockey coach Dana Berube gives instructions on a drill during a recent practice at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
First-year Red Hornets girls hockey coach Dana Berube. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
First-year Red Hornets girls hockey coach Dana Berube at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn prior to a recent practice. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)