High school girls hockey had a successful first season under the auspices of the Maine Principals Association.
There were 17 teams and Lewiston beat Biddeford 6-4 in the first championship game.
Winslow High is the northernmost school.
So what will it take for girls high school hockey to spread to eastern and northern Maine?
University of Maine women’s hockey coach Dan Lichterman established a girls club program in Chicago that has flourished and encompasses girls from all age groups.
However, he is quick to point out “we had a million people within a 20-mile radius.”
That’s a far cry from the population in the Bangor area and Aroostook County.
Lichterman said it starts by getting girls interested in the sport at a young age (i.e. 4-5 years old). One way is through clinics.
“You need to provide an opportunity for girls to try the game,” said Lichterman.
It is also important to have a group or person in place to lay out the short-term and long-term goals.
It is important that the group maintain consistency through the years. It can’t be solely comprised of parents who will stay involved as long as their girls are playing.
“You need to make sure every player is taken care of and you want to address the bigger picture: what kind of future you’re setting up for these players,” said Lichterman.
There must also be flexibility.
If a player doesn’t get involved in the program until she is 13 or 14 years old, you want to welcome her, he said.
There will be plenty of obstacles.
Some girls may want to play on high school boys teams.
Hockey is an expensive sport and many of the boys teams were initially funded by boosters groups.
You need ice time and since the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena is also used for basketball, Bangor’s Sawyer Arena and Brewer’s Penobscot Ice Arena could be swamped.
Then you have a unique situation in that there are five high schools within 15 miles of each other: Bangor, Brewer, John Bapst of Bangor, Orono and Old Town.
However, smaller towns can combine into one as you see with the Houlton-Hodgdon boys high school hockey team.
The bottom line is girls high school hockey is a reality in the state of Maine much earlier than I had anticipated.
It will expand but it is important that it is done right and coaches make it fun for the girls while also giving them the direction they need to improve.
Lichterman encouraged parents to bring their girls to his team’s games next season to get a taste of the sport and meet the players.
It is a terrific sport and anyone willing to put in the time and effort can transform themselves into a good player. There are no size limits.
BU thriller memorable
You simply couldn’t have scripted a better ending to Hockey East’s 25th anniversary year than having Boston University win the most thrilling NCAA final in history.
BU scored twice in the last minute, with the goalie pulled in favor of the extra attacker, to tie it and then won it in overtime, 4-3, over Miami of Ohio.
Hockey’s unpredictability makes its playoffs at all levels much more entertaining than other sports.
BU lost just once in its final 25 games and that was to eighth-place Maine, 6-3, in the second game of their Hockey East quarterfinal series.
You can expect a lot more upsets in the NHL playoffs than the NBA playoffs.