Masconomet Regional is the host for a girls’ hockey co-op program that includes four other area schools north of Boston: Amesbury, Georgetown, Newburyport, and Triton Regional, encompassing nine municipalities.
So the task of building interest and forming a competitive program to compete at the Division 1 level in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association is more difficult than it looks.
The home base is Boxford. The home rink is Valley Forum in Haverhill, 15-plus miles away.
“We cover from Middleton up to the New Hampshire border along I-95,” said third-year Masco coach Ryan Sugar , who has directed a relatively young Chieftain squads to a 4-3-2 start after back-to-back appearances in the D1 state semifinals. Masco was 18-4-2 a year ago and was eliminated from the tournament by another co-op team, Methuen/Tewksbury, with a 4-2 loss.
“We only pulled 20 to 22 girls,” Sugar said. “We have small numbers, but we still want to bring players in.”
Masconomet, along with fellow hosts Medway (Ashland/Holliston/Millis) and Bourne (Mashpee/Wareham/Old Rochester), headline co-ops that field rosters utilizing three or more schools.
The co-ops provide opportunities for players from schools unable to field programs on their own. And while it certainly raises the competitive level, it certainly does not guarantee success, or a ticket to a title.
No girls’ co-op program has ever won an MIAA Division 1 or Division 2 championship, though Methuen-Tewksbury made a valiant run last March before falling to Woburn in the final.
And before Masco’s back-to-back trips to the semis, only two other teams, Methuen/Tewksbury (D2, 2013) and Winthrop/Lynn (D1, 2011) had advanced to the states semifinals in the past decade.
Logistically, piecing it all together — compiling a roster, communication, travel to practices and games — is a chore.
The Chieftains roster is made up mainly of players from Masco and Newburyport. There are two players from Amesbury, and one each from Georgetown and Triton (senior Anna Behringer , an assistant captain).
Behringer, who resides in Rowley, often carpools with the lone player from Georgetown, sophomore forward Erin Irons . The two have developed a strong friendship making the 30-minute journey to practice.
“A lot of our team bonding happens during car rides,” Behringer said. “I love playing with this group of girls. It makes it all worthwhile playing with friends.”
■ Vicki Revanche , a junior at Canton High, had never stepped on the ice until this season. But with equipment supplied from coach Dennis Aldrich , she has embraced the challenge of learning to play goal in a reserve role for the Bulldogs (5-2-3).
“Just her sheer heart and compete level,” Aldrich said. “She’s been such a huge addition.”
■ With a hat trick and an assist in a 6-2 win over Medfield, Archbishop Williams senior Mackenzie Heath of West Bridgewater reached 100 career points. “She has a lot of confidence in herself,” coach Mark McHale said. “She’s one of the best stickhandlers I’ve ever had [at Archbishop Williams].”
“She’s done a great job,” McHale said of Heath. “She’s a leader out there.”
Games to watch
Wednesday, Duxbury at Canton (at Canton IceHouse, 5:30 p.m.) — The Bulldogs earned a hard-fought tie with Westwood but need to get back in the win column against a tough Dragons team.
Saturday, Archbishop Williams at St. Mary’s (at Connery Rink, 4:30 p.m.) — Two Catholic Central foes look to gain a spot in a tight race.
Saturday & Sunday, 19th Nan Rheault Tournament (at Martha’s Vineyard Arena) — The tourney hosted by the Vineyarders features Dover-Sherborn, Scituate, and Bourne.
Monday, Shrewsbury at Austin Prep (at Stoneham Arena, 10 a.m.) — The top-ranked Cougars host the Colonials in what potentially could be a preview of the D1 final.Dan Shulman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.