Turnover doesn’t discriminate, be it for a defending regional champion or a program still trying to find its way. Such is the case for some local boys’ hockey teams.

Saint Dominic Academy won its second straight Class A East crown a year ago, but will be starting a new year with a new coach this season. Same goes for Poland/Gray-New Gloucester/Oak Hill, which has its third different coach in the past four years.

Those new coaches are stepping into very different situations, however, for more reasons than one.

Bob Parker is the new head man for the Saints, though he’s not new to the program or the players. Parker was the St. Dom’s JV coach the past three years, and now will take over a team that still has some talent left from back-to-back regional championships.

The new coach for the 26ers won’t have that same continuity and familiarity. Mike Bishop has only seen Poland/Gray-NG/Oak Hill from the opposing bench, as he was the head coach for Mt. Ararat/Lisbon the previous four years.

“I always liked them,” Bishop said of the 26ers. “We enjoyed playing them, because we knew it was going to be a good game.”


Bishop got to coach his son, Ben, with the Eagles all four years. His son has since graduated, and Bishop said he couldn’t pass up the offer to take over the 26ers program. With a home at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn — where the 26ers, Saints and other local teams began preseason practice Monday — Bishop now has a guaranteed ice time five days a week and his own coach’s room.

Unlike Parker at St. Dom’s, however, Bishop isn’t taking over a team with a fully stocked cabinet. Bishop said his numbers are “OK,” but his roster is “very young” — the majority of which is underclassmen.

Still, Bishop — who met his team for the first time less than two weeks ago, and then for a second time Monday — would like his team to be competitive.

“I always want to be the coach of a team that, whether you win or lose, your opponent says ‘that was a tough game.’ Make them earn it,” Bishop said. “We may not have the players that other guys have, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hustle, you can’t work.”

Other local teams bring back the same coaches, but are adding new players from new schools, as programs look to keep roster numbers at a healthy amount. Bishop’s old team has added players from Morse High School in Bath to those from Mt. Ararat and Lisbon. This year, there are more Class A teams consisting of co-ops (11) than just one school (nine).

Bishop said he knows “who the big dogs are” when it comes to teams to beat in Class A North (the geographical regions are something else new, with North/South replacing East/West), pointing toward St. Dom’s, Lewiston and Bangor — which the 26ers open the season against.

While those teams are perpetual contenders, the state of high school boys’ hockey in Maine right now lends itself to having question marks on the first day of preseason practice. Turnover, now more than ever, brings mystery to every new season.


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