The Maine Class A Hockey Coaches Association’s proposal to overhaul boys hockey in Maine hit a roadblock when the results of a Maine Principals’ Association survey were shared at Tuesday’s virtual MPA Ice Hockey Committee meeting.

The coach’s proposal included changing to one class with two regions, a Super 8 postseason tournament and a separate state tournament. Right now there are only 11 teams in Class A and 20 in Class B.

The Maine Principals’ Association sent out a survey to each hockey school’s athletic directors recently, and 79 percent of respondents didn’t want a Super 8 tournament. The survey also revealed that 66.7 percent of the schools were against switching to one class.

Tim Ouellette, right, of St. Dominic Academy faces off against Daemon Bobbin of Scarborough during a February game at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“I only found out from my own AD about a week and a half, two weeks ago,” Mt. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse coach, and MPA boys coaches liaison, AJ Kavanaugh said during a phone call with the Sun Journal after the meeting. “He called me to go over it. He had a couple of quick clarification questions that I answered, being familiar with it. That’s when I realized they put out their own survey.”

According to the Maine Class A Hockey Coaches Association’s survey of Class A and Class B coaches this past spring, 27 of 31 coaches favored the Super 8 proposal.

Kavanaugh said he’s glad the MPA did its own survey instead of letting the topic of a Super 8 tournament sit on the back burner.


“All I can speak to is my athletic director,” Kavanaugh said. “I am not sure everyone else’s athletic director did the exercise mine did, which was call your hockey coach and talk to them as they did the survey or if they had questions about the survey.

“… We only got four or five coaches that said no to our survey. Our survey was 82 percent yes out of 31 coaches that submitted. I have a hard time believing any of these ADs that said no, the overwhelming majority that they announced today, talked to their coaches about it.”

Jake Brown, Scarborough assistant principal and former head coach of the school’s boys hockey team, said during the meeting that the Super 8 tournament wouldn’t change the minds of kids who are on the fence about playing high school hockey or trying another avenue like prep school hockey or junior hockey.

Winthrop High School’s principal, Jay Dufour, said a format change to boys hockey could spark renewed interest in the sport, but a specific idea wasn’t thrown out.

Cheverus girls hockey coach Scott Rousseau, the girls hockey coaches liaison to the MPA and a former boys hockey coach at Falmouth, said making the regular season more valuable would help curtail players leaving high school hockey.

“It’s not the playoffs; the playoffs are fine,” Rousseau told the Sun Journal in a phone call after the meeting. “We have to do everything we can to keep making schedules as exciting and meaningful as possible.”


Scarborough’s Brown and Thornton Academy coach Jamie Gagnon said that late game and practice times have hindered boys hockey.

Messalonskee athletic director and MPA Ice Hockey Committee chairperson Chad Foye said during the meeting that Lewiston AD Jason Fuller told him there is interest in bringing back the Maine High School Hockey Invitational — an exhibition tournament of teams from all over the Northeast during Christmas vacation that was held in the mid-2000s in Portland and Gorham.


There will be some changes to boys hockey this season. Portland/Deering, a co-op that played a junior varsity schedule in 2022-23, is joining the South Portland/Waynflete co-op.

South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport reached the Class A state championship in 2023, losing to Thornton Academy.

Freeport students playing boys hockey will now play with Brunswick. Brunswick/Freeport will remain in Class B South.


Kavanaugh said there is a meeting this weekend to merge the Class A and B coaches associations. However, schools have to sign up for the new association.

By merging the associations, all seniors will be eligible for the Travis Roy Award, regardless of class. There will also be one set of All-State teams the coaches put out after the season.

“We have voted as an executive board on that last year,” Kavanaugh said. “Any member school that joins the association, which is now known as Maine High School Hockey, not Maine Class A Hockey Coaches Association, is going to be eligible for Travis Roy voting and all-state voting. That is the plan.

“Now, will every Class B school join us? We will see.”


Girls hockey programs have the power to have more flexibility in their schedules starting this season, with 23 available play dates before the postseason. The MPA requires teams to play a minimum of 12 regular-season games but no more than 18 regular-season games. The remaining games can be exhibition games.


Teams will get an extra exhibition game if they reach the playoffs.

Rousseau said Cheverus will only play 16 regular season games this season in favor of adding two more games against out-of-state opponents.

“We have huge mismatches in the girls games, and we don’t have enough teams,” Rousseau said. “We can’t play B or A teams; we are just one division. There are games that should not exist. For us, we will play 16 games this year, and most likely, we won’t play Portland or Greely. Who wants to see Cheverus play Portland or Greely? They don’t want to play us. Nothing good comes from that matchup. That will free them up to play teams that make sense to them while allowing us to play Bishop Guertin and Malden Catholic.”

Bishop Guertin is in Nashua, New Hampshire, and Malden Catholic in Malden Massachusetts.

Rousseau, who also is the girls hockey coaches association president, said only a handful of teams will take advantage of the new flexibility this season. Two teams he knows of that are looking to add more out-of-state games are Yarmouth/Freeport and Brewer/Bangor/Hampden/Hermon/John Bapst/Old Town/Orono. He said that he wouldn’t be surprised if York adds more New Hampshire teams to its schedule, for geographical reasons.

“For one thing, you have to have an athletic director and a coach that know each other well enough to find those games,” Rousseau said. “It takes work to develop those relationships. Generally speaking, if it’s not geography, we are only talking about a handful of teams that want to beef up their schedule and avoid some of those weaker games. For the middle of the pack teams in the state, there are enough teams they can play, and they don’t have to go outside (the state).”


The boys hockey schedules remain at 18 regular season games and five noncountable dates — six if a team makes the playoffs.


There will be some changes this upcoming season to postseason venues.

The MPA will take over the boys hockey Class B regional semifinals. The regional semifinals were at the higher seeded team’s home arena for the past two years. The regional semifinals will be at a neutral sites, with a Northern Maine and a Southern Maine venue.

The MPA will also take over the girls regional semifinals this upcoming year. Rousseau suggested a Northern Maine venue and a Southern Maine venue and staggered start times of noon and 2 p.m. at one place and 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the other arena.

The change will allow the opportunity for fans to attend all four games.


The girls regional finals and state championships will rotate between Northern and Southern Maine venues. For example, a Northern Maine venue will host the two regional finals while the state championship will be at a Southern Maine venue. The following year, the regional finals and state championships will swap regions.

One of the Northern Maine venues the MPA hopes to add is Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. Troubha Ice Arena in Portland has been the home for the girls regional finals and state championships this past two seasons.

“That has been an evolving issue for the past decade; everything was at The Colisee,” Rousseau said. “Speaking from the girls side, that building was too big for us most of the time, and the Southern schools had to go there all the time. For the southern schools, it wasn’t fair; it didn’t seem quite right that we always had to play Lewiston and St. Dom’s in Lewiston.

“When Colisee’s new ownership took over and we were forced to look elsewhere, we found (Troubha Ice Arena) was the perfect ice arena for us. That was great, and I think Norway Savings Bank Arena, hopefully, will be open to hosting there.”

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