The juggernaut Mount Saint Charles Academy boys’ hockey program owns 44 Rhode Island state titles. None, however, since 2014.
The Woonsocket prep school is now giving its program a major facelift as it transitions away from the typical high school model and fields midget programs at the U18, U16, and U15 levels in 2019-20.
Matt Plante, Devin Rask, and Scott Gainey, who directed the Selects Academy at the South Kent School in Connecticut to national prominence, have been hired to coach the new program. In seven seasons, the trio led 10 South Kent teams to national tourneys, including the U18 title this year.
The Mounties will play a traditional high school schedule in 2018-19 before transitioning to midget play in 2019, following the model of both South Kent and Minnesota power Shattuck St. Mary’s.
US Hockey Hall of Fame coach Bill Belisle, who has directed the Mounties to 31 state titles, will remain with the program as coach emeritus after working behind the bench this season. His son and coaching partner, David, will remain with the program in an undisclosed role.
Plante, who played at Quinnipiac from 1998-2002, was the head coach for the U18 squad. He will serve as director of hockey operations with Rask, a former second-team All-American at Providence who played professionally in the US and Europe.
Notable Mount alums Bryan Berard and Brian Boucher will continue their work in the program as director of player development and strategic adviser to hockey operations, respectively.
“The current program will continue into next year with the addition of Bryan Berard providing skill training on the ice with the teams,” said Mount Saint Charles president Alan Tenreiro.
“We’re changing to keep pace with the times. Students and parents have higher expectations for athletic programs. Bringing in national level coaches shows that we’re committed to developing an outstanding program that gives our students every opportunity to reach their full potential.
“At Mount, this will also continue to include creating opportunities for students of all ability levels throughout the athletic program to play just for the love of the sport, because that’s an important part of their development.”
Tenreiro said the school will hold a news conference on Sept. 20 to announce further details on the future of the program. He said Mount still hopes to field a high school team going forward, in addition to the midget programs.
“The new directors and coaches will begin right away this August building and marketing the new program to be established in August of 2019,” Tenreiro said, “and then also take over coaching aspects with the newly formed teams in the fall of 2019.”Karl Capen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.