For years, Yarmouth and Cheverus’ boys’ hockey teams have long been competitive on their own. This winter, the squads join forces as a co-op squad, which figures to be quite formidable. File photo.

For decades, when the puck drops on a new boys’ hockey season, you can rest assured that Cheverus and Yarmouth will on the short list of top contenders.

This winter, they’re going at it together, as the Clippers and Stags are forming a co-op team that figures to be one of the best around.

Due to decreasing numbers in both programs, Cheverus and Yarmouth have combined and are looking forward to making the most of a COVID-19-abbreviated campaign.

“Both schools were in the same predicament where numbers had dropped to a level that made fielding a full team challenging, so we started a conversation last spring and it went from there. Cheverus has 17 or 18 kids and we have 15 or 16, so it’s literally half-and-half.,” said Dave St. Pierre, who has coached the Clippers since 2011 and will co-coach this year with Marco Giancotti, who became the Stags’ coach last winter and was named The Forecaster’s Coach of the Year.

Assistant coaches from both programs will be incorporated into this year’s coaching staff and the team will go the route of the National Football League’s Washington Football Team and be known as Cheverus/Yarmouth, with no mascot. Home games will be played at Troubh Ice Arena in Portland, the Stags’ home rink, with the exception of Monday’s season opener versus St. Dom’s, which will be played at Travis Roy Arena, the Clippers’ home rink.

“It’s been great being with the boys again,” said St. Pierre. “It just validates how much they need sports.”

Yarmouth and Cheverus were once Class B rivals, meeting four times in the playoffs between 1989 and 1994, with the Clippers taking all four encounters, including three in the regional final.

That was part of Yarmouth’s Golden Age, as the Clippers won 11 regional and seven Class B state titles in a 16-year span.

Cheverus moved up to Class A in 1997 and remained a top contender.

On Saturday, March 8, 2002, Cheverus and Yarmouth both traveled to the then-Central Maine Civic Center for arguably the most memorable day/night of championship hockey ever contested.

That afternoon, the Clippers repeated as Class B champions, as Lonnie Darling scored in the second overtime for a 3-2 victory over Gardiner, giving Yarmouth its most recent title.

That evening, the Stags took Lewiston into triple-OT before falling, 2-1.

Cheverus would capture an elusive Class A crown in 2005, then repeated in 2006.

Neither team has won a championship since (Cheverus has made it to three regional finals in the past six years, while Yarmouth lost a Class B state game to Waterville in overtime in 2016), but together, they’ll put a strong team on the ice this winter.

Up front, the co-op team features Yarmouth’s Matt Robichaud, as well as Cheverus’ Nick Giancotti, Jackson Header, Brady Cormier, Brian Connolly and Kevin Connolly.

On the blue line, Yarmouth’s Cam Miller, Ben Moll, David Swift, Ian O’Connor and Ethan St. Pierre, along with Cheverus’ Ryan Francheshi and Wyatt Header, will look to hold the opposition at bay, in front of goalie, Bryson Pomerleau, of Cheverus.

“First and foremost, we want the kids to play the rest of the year and enjoy the experience,” Dave St. Pierre said. “As a new program, we have to ask, how do we want to establish ourselves?'”

Cheverus/Yarmouth will be tested every time out, as it schedule includes traditional rivals from both schools, Cape Elizabeth, two-time Class B champion Greely, Falmouth and Portland/Deering, as well as contests versus Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth and Gorham.

“We get Greely twice and that will be an opportunity to have some fun,” St. Pierre said. “We play Falmouth twice, Portland/Deering twice, including the ‘City Cup.’ Good rivalry games for both schools.

“We want to work hard and be competitive. We’ll take a lot of pride in what we do.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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