Wells High is looking for a school to take in its boys’ hockey players.
Wells, which formed a co-op team with Noble for the past six years, discovered earlier this week that Noble was dropping the Warriors.
“I was certainly blind-sided when I got the phone call Monday morning,” said Wells Athletic Director Jack Molloy. “We’re actively looking for a partner.”
Noble, located in North Berwick, broke up with Wells because it believes it has a new partner: Marshwood High of South Berwick. The neighboring school districts combine for other activities, including a middle- school hockey team called the Knight Hawks.
“We thought it would be helpful to our players (to stay together),” said Noble Principal Joe Findlay. “We would also like to have the ability to form a (junior varsity) program – with Marshwood, we could have a JV program in place – giving our players a chance to develop their skills on the JV.”
But a Noble-Marshwood team hasn’t been decided on, according to Marshwood Athletic Director Rich Buzzell.
“We’ve talked about it. It kind of makes sense,” Buzzell said. “But it’s only a request at this point. They asked us to consider it. We’re going to look at our options.”
This winter, Marshwood used players from two other schools – Traip Academy in Kittery and Sanford – on its team. The Hawks had 13 players from Marshwood, six from Traip and two from Sanford. The 21-player roster allowed Marshwood to also schedule junior varsity games.
The Maine Principals’ Association allows schools to co-op to provide enough players for a team and/or give opportunities to players whose school doesn’t sponsor a team.
The MPA once limited co-ops, disallowing the mergers of big schools. But that rule is now routinely waived, once Portland and Deering merged for boys’ hockey in 2012.
The co-op is often used in ice hockey.
Of the 19 boys’ teams in Class A, 10 are co-op teams of two or more schools. Of the 16 girls’ teams in the state, 11 are now co-op.
The Noble-Wells merger began six years ago.
“We had a couple of kids who wanted to play,” Molloy said. “We reached out and Noble accepted us.”
The schools contracted for a two-year agreement and renewed it twice.
According to Molloy, the schools split the cost for transportation, referees and coaches’ stipends. A booster club helped pay for ice time, uniforms and gear.
The combined team had some success, reaching the regional semifinals in 2014 and 2015.
The Knights’ schedule toughened up the past two years. They finished 9-9 in 2016 and 3-15 this winter.
The 2016-17 team featured nine players from Wells and 12 from Noble.
Of the nine Wells players, only one was a senior, leaving eight with no team next year.
“It’s disappointing for our kids and parents who have worked so hard for the co-op,” Molloy said.
The Noble/Wells booster club president, Ken Webb, whose son is a sophomore at Wells, called Noble’s decision “unconscionable … Noble has no problem completely abandoning the Wells players.”
Webb said he met Friday with Noble Athletic Director Blair Morelli, who was not available for comment.
“We spoke of plans for the offseason and next season – looking at a potential JV program,” Webb said. “He listened, all the well knowing none of these were in his plans.”
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: