Gene Fadrigon has come full circle.
The man who guided the Old Town High School hockey team to two state Class B championships during his 15-year tenure has returned to Old Town as an assistant coach.
He became the head coach at Old Town in the third year of the program after being an assistant there.
Fadrigon was the head coach at Bangor’s John Bapst High School last season and led the Crusaders to a 16-2 record and their first-ever top seeding for the Eastern Maine Class B playoffs. Presque Isle, the fourth seed, upset John Bapst 5-1 in the semis en route to winning the EM title.
He had assisted Aaron King at Bapst the two previous years, but King and his family moved to North Carolina and Fadrigon took over the job.
In his total of three years with the program, the Crusaders went 44-16-1.
“Gene has been a great addition,” said third-year Old Town head coach Brett Hale. “Obviously, Gene has been around a long time and he has a lot of knowledge. His coming back to Old Town is a great story. We’re at a point where we’re rebuilding the program, and having Gene with us is only going to add to the success of Old Town hockey.”
“It’s kind of funny,” added Hale. “When he was coaching Old Town, I was playing for Orono. That was a really big rivalry back then. I certainly looked at him as an icon. It’s a privilege to be working with him now.”
Hale said his other assistant, Dale Cross, first suggested they look into asking Fadrigon to join the staff.
“We wanted to give him the offseason off before we sat down with him to see if he was interested in coming back,” said Hale. “When we met with him, we were ecstatic that his ears were open to the idea and he was excited to get back to his Old Town roots.
“I’ve already learned some things from him and he has earned the instant respect of the kids and the parents. We all feel rejuvenated. We’re going to get the program back to where it once was and Gene is going to be a piece of the puzzle,” said Hale.
“I like being involved with the kids. I knew quite a few of them [before],” said the 64-year-old Fadrigon. “I’ve always liked coaching. It’s fun being back. We practice at 6:15 in the morning [at the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena] and then I continue down to work [at Eastern Maine Community College] after practice.
“Brett and Dale have made me feel very comfortable. They’ve been open to any opinions or suggestions I have,” added Fadrigon.
Fadrigon decided to step down as the head coach at John Bapst because he was tired of dealing with a few meddling parents.
“Being an assistant, I don’t have to put up with that any more,” chuckled Fadrigon. “But the parents here have been good and the kids are great.”
Even though the Coyotes have struggled in recent years, including a 1-17 record last season, Fadrigon said “I see a lot of potential with this team. And it’s a young team. There’s only two seniors.”
Hockey tourney this weekend
Old Town will be one of five Eastern Maine Class B high school teams involved in the second annual Holiday Face-Off Hockey Tournament on Friday and Saturday at the Penobscot Ice Arena in Brewer.
The exhibition games are sponsored by the John Bapst Hockey Boosters.
John Bapst, Hampden Academy, Presque Isle and Houlton-Hodgdon will be the other teams involved.
Friday’s games will be played from 1:50-8:30 p.m. and Saturday’s games will be held from 9:20 a.m.- 6 p.m. Admission is $5 per person, per day.