BANGOR, Maine — Nick and Ryan Moore, 14-year-old twin sons of Jim and Mary Moore, are joining elite players from around the world at a prep school that is expanding its youth hockey program.
After helping lead their Portland Junior Pirates team to back-to-back strong seasons, the Moores will be starting their high school years at South Kent (Conn.) School.
The Moores think the move will be good for them.
“Nick and I are very grateful for the help of many Bangor teachers and Junior Pirate coaches who have put us in a position to play prep school hockey,” Ryan Moore said in a press release.
“Leaving our family and friends will not be easy,” said Nick Moore, “but learning in a smaller school setting will help prepare me for college.”
The school, through its Selects Hockey Academy, is building on the success generated by its Under-16 team and adding U-14 and U-18 squads. The Moores will be competing on the U-14 team because they won’t turn 15 until after Jan. 1.
South Kent is adding the two new teams to provide their players an opportunity to maintain a continuous involvement with one prep school throughout their high school years, according to information on its website. Previously, players who were moving up from U-16 to U-18 might have to change schools. The younger squad allows families to set up their children who have aspirations for upper-level hockey with a school that combines a scholastic program with a strong hockey program.
“We’re the only school on the East Coast that offers a 65-game schedule and a prep school education,” said Eric Soltys, director of hockey operations for South Kent School, which competes at the Tier I AAA level.
He stressed, though, that the school doesn’t recruit just for a player’s hockey ability.
“It’s the all-around kid. I learned that from Tim Whitehead,” said Soltys, an assistant coach under the University of Maine head coach during the 2004-05 season. “It’s not just about hockey but about the kid.”
And he likes what he sees in the Moores.
“They’re just good kids,” Soltys said.
And very good hockey players with excellent prospects for future hockey success, according to Soltys.
“We only deal with kids who are elite athletes,” said Soltys.
Nick Moore will be challenging to be the No. 1 goalie.
“I feel he is fully capable of competing for the job,” said Soltys.
Ryan Moore is a forward with a good shot who exhibits quickness and gritty play.
“He’s a very well-rounded, hard-working kid,” Soltys said.
Their teammates will be coming from all over the world as South Kent has entered into a partnership with Selects Sports Management, a global sporting organization that focuses on developing youth and junior athletes.
“It’s a very big hockey operation,” said Soltys. In addition to the Moores, players will be coming from places such as France, Los Angeles and St. Petersburg, Russia.
Selects Sports Management was familiar with the Moores, one person in particular.
“Sean O’Brien had seen them play quite a bit,” said Soltys.
O’Brien was a co-founder of the Junior Pirates in 2003 and president until 2009 before owning Capitol Sports Advisors from 2009 to 2010. He joined SSM in January 2011.
And Soltys and his staffers had seen the Moores when they played for the Junior Pirates. They knew what they were getting. The Junior Pirates advanced to the New England Hockey League championship game two years ago and last year’s Bantam AAA team topped the Eastern Hockey Federation regular season and playoffs. The two also reached the state championship games while playing for Bangor Youth Hockey and the Maine Freeze.
“[The Moores] were actively recruited,” said Soltys.
Their first game is Friday against Neponset Valley at Providence College’s Schneider Arena.
“Our hopes are they continue to develop and springboard into the [NCAA] Division I spotlight,” added Soltys. “I would have no problem pushing them toward the University of Maine.”
Nick Moore, who along with his brother plans to play baseball at South Kent, looks forward to the opportunity to play Division I hockey.
“Playing for South Kent will also give Ryan and me opportunities to learn from hockey coaches who have played and coached at the university level,” he said.