Lewiston High School head boys hockey coach Jamie Belleau runs practice at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston in 2018. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file photo

Jamie Belleau said it’s time to spend some time with family.

The Lewiston boys hockey coach the past 13 seasons has stepped down from the position after leading the Blue Devils to four state championships since 2016.

“It was a difficult decision,” Belleau said. “It has nothing to do with me not having the passion for coaching or anything to do with Lewiston. I love Lewiston, I love the program, it basically boiled down to spend some time with my kids. One is going to be a junior in high school next year and another one is going to be a senior. I juggled a lot of years, I tried to make it work, but one of them plays hockey, another one plays a full-time sport in the winter. I am going to have a difficult time between work, being a father and watching them play towards the end of their high school careers and on top of it, coach my youngest daughter. I am coaching her U10 travel hockey team.”

He also wants to spend time with his oldest son, James, next winter when he will be a sophomore at the University of Tampa. His other son, Michael, is a junior at North Yarmouth Academy and his daughter Anna is a junior at Lewiston, while Ellie is the youngest and playing hockey with the Maine Gladiators 10U travel team.

Lewiston High School head coach Jamie Belleau and his son, Michael, during the 2019-2020 season. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Lewiston Athletic Director Jason Fuller said it’s a big loss for the athletic department and is happy with how Belleau handled the job in his 13 seasons. 

“I don’t think how many people realize the pressure that goes along with being the Lewiston High School boys hockey coach, it’s just on a different level,” Fuller said. “I think he has done an unbelievable job handling that pressure, and one more time, he did a real good job.” 

Before taking the Lewiston job, Belleau was the head coach at Edward Little from 2003-05, winning the 2003 and 2004 Class A state championships with the Red Eddies. His six total state championships put him one behind the current EL coach, Norm Gagne.

Belleau believed when he took over the Lewiston program in 2008-09 it was in a good place, as the team was coming off a Class A State Championship appearance in the 2007-08 season, losing to Biddeford and future Pittsburgh Penguin Brian Dumoulin.

His career record at Lewiston was 209-40-10.

“Everything happens for a reason, I am very grateful,” Belleau said. “I went to Lewiston, it’s my alma mater, I was the head coach for three years at EL and then I took a little break. Then this opportunity presented itself. I think the program has always been strong, it’s Lewiston High School, it has a tradition of excellence. Certainly I was aware of that, having played there, lived and grown up here. That’s something that was there when I got there (as a coach) because of all my predecessors. It was something I wanted to build on and continue. Our goal from day one (in 2008) was to win a state championship. It took us a little while, but that happens, it’s hard to win state championships.”

Belleau feels the program is in a good place as the defending state champions, going 21-0 in 2019-20, and this past season there were no state championships because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Blue Devils went 9-2-1 this year, but the two losses came to NYA, which isn’t an MPA school.

The biggest thing Belleau did for the program was establishing relationships with top high schools in New England.

“He made the commitment to play the best (opponents) you can get,” Fuller said. “I think you look at who we played in our scrimmages, that’s a product of Jamie going out and meeting people, getting to know people. I think that takes the program to the next level. Our relationship with BC High is something we are really proud of and that’s because Jamie has developed that relationship. I think it has given our kids (an opportunity) to be exposed because they have played some elite level programs, whether it’s BC High, to name one. We played others, we played Malden Catholic in the past.”

Fuller thought Belleau did a good job pushing his players to go to the prep or junior hockey route if that was a player’s goal, even if the player still had eligibility remaining at the high school level. Fuller also thought Belleau did a good job molding kids to become young men off the ice as well.

Most of the Blue Devils were either freshmen or sophomores this season. Belleau believes whoever becomes coach will be in a position to succeed.

“We had a young roster that’s exciting to build upon next year,” Belleau said. “The fact that I can’t coach that group makes this decision difficult, but it wouldn’t matter what group (I decided to stop coaching), it’s Lewiston. It wouldn’t matter if we had no success last year or we had a bunch of success… we’re still the defending state champions, an undefeated season and a great, shortened season under the circumstances. There’s a lot to look forward to. That’s not the right reason to make the decision that’s best for my family. I am going to miss that group but it wouldn’t matter, I would miss any group (of kids).”

Fuller said the athletic department will begin accepting applications for the next coach and there’s no timetable on when a hire will be announced.

One of the lasting memories for Belleau was when Fuller first offered him the job after Gagne left Lewiston.

Other memories are on the ice, including the first state championship in 2016 that started the three-peat, with more titles coming in 2017 and 2018.

“Winning in 2016 after (it been since) 2002 (the last time Lewiston won a state title), when Tim Smith did it (as coach), that’s a lasting memory. My brother was on the bench (as an assistant coach) for that game,” Belleau said. “I am still a dad, going 21-0 (in 2020) with Michael being a junior at Lewiston High School and hugging him on the ice, it was very special for me. Those are obviously highlights.”

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