The junior varsity hockey teams from Bangor High School and Hampden Academy are practicing together this season.
The move is designed to provide both teams with enough players for a thorough session and to save money.
Hampden Academy coach Eric MacDonald and Bangor coach Quinn Paradis are friends and MacDonald approached Paradis with the idea.
Rather than having 8-12 players on the ice, which limits the amount of drills, combining the two enables them to have up to 20 skaters working together on the ice.
The players participate in skill development drills together and then split into their respective teams to finish the one-hour practice with a scrimmage.
The tactic enables both teams to work together on their special teams. For example, Bangor’s power-play unit can go up against Hampden Academy’s penalty-killers and vice versa.
They are practicing together twice a week at Sawyer Arena in Bangor.
Hampden Academy’s home rink is Penobscot Ice Arena in Brewer.
“It is working out pretty well,” Paradis said. “It gives the kids more competition and, with hockey numbers declining, we’re able to put more kids on the ice.
“It also helps our budget,” Paradis added.
The two schools split the cost of ice time.
Paradis also noted that holding a practice with only 12 players leads to them becoming exhausted.
“It helps both teams out,” MacDonald said. “You’re able to work on things you wouldn’t be able to [with a limited number of players]. It helps their skill development.”
MacDonald believes the extra practice will help the JV players be prepared to play at the varsity level earlier.
Hampden Academy has 28 players in its program, the most in MacDonald’s five years as the coach. He said that has enabled him to put together a 16-game JV schedule, compared to seven last season.
They only had seven last year.
Bangor also has a full JV schedule.