May 22, 2018
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Bangor High players defend former hockey coach, admit, ‘Some kids made bad decisions’

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Former Bangor High School hockey coach Denis Collins
By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor High School hockey team isn’t going to dwell on the resignation of coach Denis Collins although three of the seniors passionately defended their coach before Tuesday’s practice at Sawyer Arena.

Collins stepped down Monday after he was placed on leave for not allowing bathroom breaks on the team’s trip up to Presque Isle for a game last week.

Collins has said that he was facing a tight travel schedule after the game time was moved up for the three-hour-plus trip to Presque Isle.

Assistant coach Quinn Paradis has taken over as the head coach.

“It’s behind us. We’re moving forward. It wasn’t my decision, it was the school’s,” said Paradis, adding that he preferred not to discuss the situation any further.

Collins initially offered his resignation on Friday.

“When we spoke the first time [Friday],” said Bangor Principal Paul Butler on Tuesday about his meeting with Collins and Athletic Director Steve Vanidestine, “[Collins] offered his resignation.

“I decided not to take it at that time.”

The three spent the weekend thinking about it, and when they met again Monday, Collins again offered to resign. Butler accepted it then.

After the players were told of the resignation late Monday afternoon, the school announced it publicly.

“This was not a snap decision. It took three days,” said Butler. “I felt it was in the best interest of the school to [accept] the coach’s decision.”

Seniors Zeb Tuell, Parker Sanderson and Zach Papsadora said they will use Collins’ resignation as extra motivation.

“Some kids made some bad decisions, and he was the one who took the blame for most of it,” said right wing Tuell when asked about rumors that players urinated in jars or bottles on the bus. “That wasn’t his mistake.”

Tuell added, “We miss him a lot. We wish he was still with us. The punishment was unjust. But we can’t let it affect our season. We have to move on.”

Sanderson said the situation is very upsetting.

“He meant a lot to Bangor High School hockey. He meant a lot to me, personally. I played for him for a long time, including with the (Maine) Freeze,” said left wing Sanderson. “It’s sad to see him go. Hopefully, there will be a resurrection (and Collins will eventually get his job back). The punishment didn’t fit the crime. I wish the best for him.”

Center Papsadora said Collins was “like our second dad. I’ve known him since I was 4 years old. “He was the best coach around, he said. I really appreciated all the stuff he did for us.

“He did a lot off the ice, too. He got us equipment, he did stuff with the team during summer camps and helped kids develop. He was really focused on skill development and that has been a big key for our team.

“It’s a tough loss but we have to go on,” added Papsadora. “We want to win a state championship for him. I’m going to skate even harder just for him.”

Tuell said the fact Collins stepped down because he didn’t want the controversy to be a distraction to the team says “a lot about him.

“He’s taking it like a man. He got out so it wouldn’t ruin our (momentum),” noted Tuell.

Sanderson added, “He didn’t want anyone else to get involved so he took the bullet for us.”

Tuell said Collins “was a great coach who cared about the game so much and put so much into it both on and off the ice.

“‘He took care of our jerseys, he raised money in the offseason,” Tuell added.

“He said he’d love to see us to win the state championship,” said Sanderson. “He wished us the best. That’s huge. We’ll do the best we can for him. He will be an inspiration for us.”

The 3-0 Rams, who beat Lawrence of Fairfield 8-2 Saturday in Paradis’ debut behind the bench, will take on archrival Brewer (2-0) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Penobscot Ice Arena in Brewer.

“I’m looking forward to the game. Brewer is always a fun rivalry. I can’t wait to get out there, and the boys are excited,” said Paradis.

“It’ll be a good game. We’ve got to go hard,” Sanderson added.

Reporter Dave Barber contributed to this report.

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