North Yarmouth Academy didn’t have to look far for a new coach for its boys’ hockey team.

NYA announced Tuesday former Lewiston Maineiacs coach and general manager Ed Harding will replace Portland Pirates Hall of Famer Kent Hulst as head coach and director of hockey operations.

“We had more than 100 applicants for the job and we found someone right in our own backyard,” NYA Athletic Director Mike Dutton said.

“It’s like I’ve come full circle,” said Harding, who got his start coaching hockey at Greely High in Cumberland in 1990. “It’s a great opportunity. I have a lot of respect for the tradition of NYA.”

Harding, 47, also coached four seasons at the University of Southern Maine, his alma mater, and ran a junior hockey program for two years in Flagstaff, Ariz.

He spent six years with the Maineiacs beginning in 2003, starting as an assistant coach and ultimately as head coach and general manager of the junior hockey team.

“We feel that his experience and talents will help us advance our program and, more importantly, develop the character and skills of the players in our program,” said NYA Head Master Peter Mertz in a statement.

Hulst, who spent 81/2 seasons playing the Pirates, will start his new duties with the Portland Junior Pirates on Saturday.

The Junior Pirates are based at the MHG Ice Centre in Saco.

“It’s going to be 24/7 hockey, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to get into,” Hulst said.

Hulst, 42, will help coach the program’s Junior A and B teams, which are made up of players 20 years old and younger.

“He’s going to be working with player development throughout the organization,” Junior Pirates General Manager Joakim Wahlstrom said.

The Junior Pirates sponsor 14 teams for boys and girls, ranging in age from 7 to 20.

While he was at NYA, Hulst also managed Travis Roy Arena in Yarmouth.

But Dutton said the school is conducting a separate search to find a new manager of the rink.

 

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: [email protected]