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HIGH SCHOOLS

Masconomet will no longer host girls’ hockey squad

Newburyport will lead new co-op, with Masco players likely headed to Beverly/Danvers team

After two decades, Masconomet will no longer field a girls’ hockey program, athletic director John Daileanes confirmed Monday.

Masconomet was the host of a rare five-school co-op, partnering with Newburyport, Amesbury, Triton, and Georgetown to compete in Division 1. The team reached the state semifinals in 2017 and 2018, and has been a tournament mainstay the past several seasons, but a majority of the players have been from Newburyport.

With 12 of those players returning and strong numbers in middle school programs, Newburyport athletic director Kyle Hodsdon said after three years of planning, the time was right for the school to create its own team.

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“We feel that with the number of players on that team, and with what we have coming up, that it makes sense to have them represent their own school,” Hodsdon said. “We’ve been fortunate to be with Masco and have that partnership. It’s been good, and we don’t want to see it end really, but we felt that it was best for our program and our kids.”

Pending approval from the MIAA, Newburyport will host a co-op team that will continue to include players from Amesbury, Triton, and Georgetown.

Daileanes said he’s hopeful that the six returning skaters and four incoming ninth graders from Masconomet — which serves Middleton, Topsfield, and Boxford, where it is based — will be able to join the Beverly/Danvers co-op program. Masconomet is joining both schools in the Northeastern Conference this fall.

While he considered having Masconomet continue under the Newburyport banner, with the same schools they had competed with, he felt the option to join Northeastern Conference teams made more sense, both immediately and in the future.

The Beverly/Danvers co-op uses Endicott’s Bourque Arena as a home rink, an easier commute for the Masco players than Newburyport. A move within the Northeastern Conference may also keep the program alive. Daileanes said schools cannot play as a co-op if one school sponsors 18 players, and Daileanes feared rising numbers at Newburyport may eventually have left Masconomet without a place to play.

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“We just could not sustain a program on our own without help from Newburyport,” Daileanes said.

Bob Dillon, who coaches a summer program for the Masconomet skaters, said Daileanes isn’t using the most updated roster, and by his count, enough players could suit up for the Chieftains this winter using a middle-level waiver. He said he had 12 players from Newburyport and 11 from Masconomet in his summer program.

Woburn, which claimed the D1 co-state title this winter, had a roster of 12 skaters.

Dillon said he and Masconomet head coach Ryan Sugar were not consulted about the numbers or decision, and found out about “significant changes” that would be made to the girls program in an email last Thursday.

“Because of the hard work that everyone puts into the local youth hockey programs, we have a pipeline of 32 to 40 young ladies coming up from the Masco Youth Hockey Lady Chieftains program,” Dillon said.

But Daileanes, who has been the athletic director at Masconomet for eight years and served in the same role at Newburyport for 15 years prior, said Masconomet’s numbers are historically low, and he is confident a move to another co-op team is the right move for the future.

“People are upset that Masco will not be the host school, but when I look at it, I just want to provide kids an opportunity to play, and I think this was the best way to do it in the long-term for Masco girls hockey,” Daileanes said.

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“All the kids get an opportunity to play, and that’s the most important thing.”