AUBURN — The high school boys hockey coaches across the state met either at Norway Savings Bank Arena or virtually to continue the discussion of the future of the sport.

During the meeting Monday night, the three existing coaches associations — Class A, Class B North, and Class B South — became one association, the Maine High School Hockey Coaches Association, by a unanimous vote.

For this year, Class A, Class B North, and Class B South will continue to have their own separate awards banquets as they have had in the past. So, the Travis Roy Award will only be for Class A seniors for another year.

One thing the majority of coaches agreed they want to happen once the season is over is a round-robin senior all-star game tournament with a Class A team, a Class B North team, and a Class B South team.

“At the end of the day, we all agree, we need to make it about the kids and make it a better experience for all the players playing high school hockey,” Jason Rouleau, the Poland/Leavitt/Oak Hill/Gray-New Gloucester coach, said after the meeting. “I think having a single association is a big step in that direction.”

Norm Gagne, the Edward Little coach and the former President of the Class A Coaches Association, said the merger is the first step to the future of the sport at the high school level.


“That’s the big deal, that’s what we wanted,” Gagne said after the meeting. “That is the main reason why we wanted to have this meeting. I knew there were going to be some stumbling blocks with the banquets and all-star game, I knew that. That is why I said what I said at the beginning of the meeting: ‘I thought the importance of this meeting was to bring all the hockey schools together under one coaches association.'”

There was no vote regarding board members for the new association. Greely coach and former Class B South Coaches Association President Barry Mothes would like to see a subcommittee created of one or two coaches from each class to meet on a regular basis to find ways or ideas to improve the sport and bring concerns to the Maine Principals’ Association’s Ice Hockey Committee.

“I think it was a productive meeting and I still think there’s a lot of issues on all of our minds,” Mothes said after the meeting. “I think the step we made tonight to combine our associations for the purpose of having a state-wide coaches association and have a small leadership group of A and B coaches working together in a conscious way, I think it’s exciting and a good development. I feel there’s some good energy in the room. I look forward to that group working together to see if we can unify our views on the sport, promote our sport and players, and present a stronger and more unified voice to the MPA Ice Hockey Committee and to the state as a whole.”

Gagne said a subcommittee would be a more effective way of communicating with the coaches.

Mothes said he also wants to see more coaches involved with the MPA Ice Hockey Committee.

“The thing that’s challenging, the (ice hockey) committee doesn’t meet that frequently and the meetings are pretty sporadic, and the number of coaches allowed at those meetings or invited has changed and varied over the years,” Mothes said. “Of course, COVID made that complicated and maybe it was no fault of anybody. But it does seem there should be a stronger presence of the coaches from the different Class A, Class B North, South, so there’s a little bit better representation so we could hopefully talk about the most important things going on with our sport.


“In terms of thinking about the regular season, thinking about the playoffs, and the future of the sport. Thinking about classification or all these kinds of things that have been on our radar for a number of years. Obviously, things are happening quickly for certain programs right now and it’s concerning to see the number of teams drop.”

Playing more regular season games was brought up at the meeting Monday. Coaches know they can’t compete with the number of games that junior or full-season AAA youth hockey offers, but offering 25-30 games may help kids stay in high school hockey.

Boys hockey has 31 teams for the 2023-24 season, with 11 in Class A and 10 each in Class B North and South. The Class A Coaches Association in March brought a proposal to the MPA Ice Hockey Committee which would have combined all 31 teams under one class, but have two postseason tournaments: a state tournament and a “Super 8” tournament of the top eight teams in the state.

In a survey this past winter, 24 coaches favored a Super 8 tournament and five said no. However, late this summer, the MPA sent out its own survey to the athletic directors of schools involved with boys hockey programs — 79 percent weren’t in favor of a Super 8.

Some coaches mentioned Monday that they didn’t know their ADs got a survey from the MPA.

“I think it an exciting idea; it’s an idea that we need to keep talking about,” Mothes said. “I know it’s been proposed and different surveys and maybe those have led to different results. I think the Super 8 is something that needs to be looked at more closely, and I think in conjunction with the Super 8, or even if we don’t get to a Super 8 immediately, I personally think we could make the playoffs a more meaningful experience for our players, teams, and fans.


“I feel like the timing of the games, the choice of venue and the spacing out of the games, I feel like it is too hectic, too compressed. I think the games are jammed in too tight. I think they are played in times not conducive — these are like the most important games of a lifetime for players. Playing a state championship at 10 in the morning or a regional final at 4 o’clock on a school day, I have never heard such a thing.”

Last year’s Class B state championship game happened at 10 a.m. at the Cross Insurance Arena, with the Class A game happening shortly after the finish of the Class B game because the Maine Mariners of the ECHL had a 7 p.m. game. The MPA is looking to move the start times to the afternoon this season and there’s no conflict with a Mariners game this upcoming year. The Class B South regional final has been played at 4 p.m. for the past two years at Cross Arena.

While the MPA tabled the idea of a Super 8 postseason tournament at last month’s MPA Ice Hockey Committee meeting, the coaches still want to hold a Super 8 tournament in the summer when coaches can meet with their players for on-ice practices.

Marc Gosselin, the Executive Director of Sports Tourism for Auburn, has offered Norway Savings Bank Arena to host the tournament.

“Marc approached us and wanted to get involved with that,” Gagne said. “I appreciate him stepping forward and offering Norway Savings Bank Arena rink to do that — this a big deal. I think it will add a lot to our high school hockey and at least create some buzz that we need.”

The coaches said having the Super 8 tournament in the summer — ideally in July — will be hockey’s version of the Lobster Bowl senior all-star football game.

The eight teams competing will be based on a power ranking formula the coaches found when they presented the Super 8 proposal to the MPA in March. It’s based on three factors for each team: wins and ties, strength of schedule, and winning percentage of teams defeated and tied by opponents from the 2023-24 season.

2024 graduates will be eligible to participate in the tournament if one is held next summer.

“The Super 8 will bring tremendous excitement to high school hockey,” Rouleau said. “Whether you are Class A or Class B, I think it’s by design to get the best eight teams through the right voting mechanisms to identify those teams and get the best eight teams to play against each other in a tournament and have, in my words, ‘Hey we are the best team the state this year.'”

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