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

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a five-part series about the five biggest sports stories in the Sun Journal’s coverage area in 2021, as selected by our sports reporters and editors.

Jamie Belleau has nothing but love for the Lewiston High School boys hockey team.

The 1989 graduate played for the Blue Devils, and in 2008 he took over as head coach of the team. Belleau decided to step down as the team’s coach in June, after winning four Class A state championships and going 209-40-10 in 13 years. 

“It was a difficult decision,” Belleau said in June. “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 spending some time with my kids.” 

His oldest son, James, is a sophomore at the University of Tampa. His other son, Michael, is a senior at North Yarmouth Academy and his daughter Anna is a junior at NYA. His youngest child, daughter Ellie, is playing hockey with the Maine Gladiators 10U travel team.

With one of the most successful coaches in high school hockey in the state available, North Yarmouth Academy boys hockey coach Michael Warde reached out to Belleau about if he wanted to join the Panthers staff as an assistant coach. Belleau spoke to his family — including Michael — and got their blessing. Also on the NYA staff is Belleau’s college coach, Terry Meagher, the long-time Bowdoin College coach.

Lewiston High School head coach Jamie Belleau and his son, Michael. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“(This new role is) kind of the best of both worlds for me,” Belleau said in October after taking the assistant coach’s job at NYA. “I get to watch Michael play every game, but I get to participate by being on the bench. And really, what a great opportunity for me to do that and to finish off Michael’s high school career by being able to participate. You know, I’m excited about that.”

Belleau had coached Michael from youth hockey through Michael’s junior year at Lewiston, winning a state title together in 2020. Michael then transferred to NYA and repeated his junior year — a common practice when students transfer to a prep school. Belleau coached against Michael last season as Lewiston and NYA played each other for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

Belleau is also coaching other former Lewiston players at NYA like Cooper St. Hilaire, Daxton St. Hilaire, Conor Wolverton and Nick Pelletier. 

Lewiston athletic director Jason Fuller said Jamie Belleau elevated the Lewiston hockey program after taking the reins from Norm Gagne.

“He made the commitment to play the best (opponents) you can get,” Fuller said in June. “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.”

The state championships included three straight in 2016, 2017 and 2018 along with winning the fourth in 2020. The title wins have a personal meaning to him.

“Winning in 2016 after (it had 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 in June. “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 the highlights.” 

Jamie King, back center, has been hired to replace Jamie Belleau, back left, as the new head coach of the Lewiston boys hockey program. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Fuller didn’t have to go far in naming a new coach by hiring Jamie King, who had worked with Belleau the past six years. 

King embraces the spotlight in that the Lewiston boys hockey coaching job has.

“Anytime you coach at any level there’s always going to be pressure. I think I just, throughout the years coaching, and I’ve been coaching over 20 years, pressure doesn’t really get to me much. So, I think I’d be able to handle it pretty well,” King said in October. “Playing at Lewiston and coaching the last six years underneath Jamie, I think I’ll be able to handle the pressure of the program.” 

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