Old Town High School center Cody Cross, the Eastern Maine Class B Player of the Year, will continue his hockey career with the Portland Junior Pirates.
Cross, who graduated in June, had contemplated going to Bangor’s Husson University and playing baseball but said he wasn’t ready to hang up his skates.
“When some of my friends were going to play summer hockey, it really hit me that I wouldn’t be playing hockey any more,” said Cross. “I really love hockey. I couldn’t give it up.”
Cross tried out for the Pirates in May and earned a roster spot but had a change of heart and intended to go to Husson.
Once he decided that he couldn’t give up hockey, he contacted Pirates coach and former University of Maine defenseman Jeff Libby.
“They were waiting on a Finnish player,” explained Cross.
But that player didn’t end up coming so Cross took the spot.
“I didn’t want to look back and regret quitting hockey,” said Cross.
He will live at the Scarborough home of Pirates defenseman Mike Morrison and his parents, Scott and Lisa, along with Bangor’s Nic Cota. Cota is passing up his senior year at Bangor High to play for the Pirates and he will attend Scarborough High.
“Nic and I will share a room. We’re good buddies. It should be easy,” said Cross, who also hopes to attend Southern Maine Community College.
They will play for the Pirates’ Metropolitan Junior Hockey League team. There is also an Atlantic Junior Hockey League team which is a notch above the MJHL club.
Cross had 20 goals and 42 assists in 19 games for the Coyotes this past season. The Coyotes went 11-7-1 during the regular season after winning just five games the previous two seasons combined.
The 18-year-old Cross said he wants to play college hockey and feels this is a positive step in his development because they play a lot more games (over 50) than they did in high school, where they were allowed to play just 18 regular season games, and because the competition will be better.
“And there’s a lot better chance of someone (college recruiter) seeing you,” said Cross.
He intends to spend a lot of off-ice time working out in the Pirates’ facility in Saco.
“I need to get a lot bigger,” said the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Cross. “If I can get bigger, with my speed, I should be all set at that level.”
He knows he won’t be able to dominate like he did in high school.
“I won’t be able to skate around kids any more. I’m going to have to play the puck to my teammates,” said Cross, who would eventually like to become a chiropractor after his playing career is over.
Old Town High School hockey coach Brett Hale said the “sky is the limit” for Cross.
“He excels wherever he plays,” said Hale. “He has great speed and sees the ice really well.”
Cross said he will miss his family and friends but he “can’t wait” to get started.