Dave St. Pierre, head coach of the Cheverus/Yarmouth cooperative boys’ hockey team, talks to his players during a 5:30 a.m. practice at Troubh Ice Arena in Portland last week. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

As of now, the Cheverus/Yarmouth cooperative boys’ hockey team does not have a nickname. No mashup of the two nicknames from the schools, the Stags and Clippers. No out-of-left-field animal selection with the word “ice” thrown in front of it, like Ice Bears or Ice Wombats. This team is simply the Cheverus/Yarmouth Hockey Club, or Cheverus/Yarmouth HC, and they like it.

Matthew Robichaub of Yarmouth High is a center on the co-op team: “This year we’ve done pretty well to get to know each other, and we’re all pretty excited for the season to start.” Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“We’re kind of hoping (a nickname) comes organically,” said senior Matthew Robichaud, a center from Yarmouth, after an early morning practice last week at Troubh Ice Arena in Portland.

What the Cheverus/Yarmouth Hockey Club lacks in nickname brainstorming is more than made up for in team building. This is the second season the two schools have combined for a co-op boys’ hockey program, but last winter’s 11-game, pandemic-shortened season was played under conditions that made real team building almost impossible. Things that might be taken for granted, like team dinners or get-togethers at a player’s home, were off limits. Teams couldn’t congregate together in the locker room and just talk.

“Last year was hard, because we couldn’t have a lot of the normal things. We couldn’t bond in the locker room or do things outside of practice. I think this year we’ve done pretty well to get to know each other, and we’re all pretty excited for the season to start,” Robichaud said.

The Cheverus/Yarmouth varsity boys’ hockey team has 13 players from Yarmouth High and nine from Cheverus. The program’s junior varsity team has 15 players. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Both Cheverus and Yarmouth have a history of ice hockey success. Yarmouth played in the Class B state championship game as recently as 2016, and reached the regional semifinals in 2017 and 2018. Cheverus reached the Class A South regional finals three times in four seasons between 2015 and 2018. But both schools saw hockey participation shrinking, and were proactive in forming their cooperative team before one or the other had to drop the sport.

“We saw a lot of good talent and a lot of good numbers coming up, then slowly and surely it dwindled as kids choose different paths,” said Coach Dave St. Pierre, the longtime hockey coach at Yarmouth who coaches the Cheverus/Yarmouth team. “One of the biggest reasons we got together was we were seeing it happen at both schools, and we wanted to create an environment where kids could come and compete hard for four years, enjoy the high school experience and play for their community and all the positives you get from that and never get again in your life.”


The Cheverus/Yarmouth collaboration is the latest in a decade-long trend of Maine high school hockey teams merging into cooperative programs. This season, 17 of the 34 boys’ hockey teams competing at the varsity level are co-ops. Cheverus/Yarmouth is one of three co-op teams competing in Class B South, including Poland/Leavitt/Gray-New Gloucester/Oak Hill and Kennebunk/Wells. Seven of the 12 teams in Class B North are co-ops.

Slightly more than 1,000 boys participated in Maine high school hockey during the 2019-20 season – a decline of 12 percent from 2015-16, according to data from the Maine Principals’ Association. In some cases, players have chosen to join a club or junior team rather than play for their high school teams. For example, 10 of the 21 players listed on the roster for the Maine Moose’s 18-under team are from Maine. The Moose play a longer schedule than high school hockey teams, with games stretching from mid-September though mid-March against teams from around the Northeast.

Members of the Cheverus/Yarmouth cooperative boys’ hockey team take part in an early-morning practice last week in Portland. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Cheverus/Yarmouth’s varsity roster has 22 players, 20 skaters and two goalies. Thirteen of the players come from Yarmouth, nine from Cheverus. The program’s junior varsity team has 15 players, St. Pierre said.

“For us at Yarmouth, we didn’t have anybody in the class above mine, so we knew we were going to be low on numbers and we were preparing for that already,” Robichaud said. “When we found out we’d be with Cheverus, we were pretty psyched for it.”

With the two schools playing in different conferences in most other sports (Cheverus in the Southwestern Maine Activities Association and Yarmouth in the Western Maine Conference), there were no old rivalries to put aside with the merger. Many of the players came up together playing youth hockey in the Casco Bay Hockey Association.

“We’re one team, not two schools,” said Cheverus senior Kevin Connolly, a defensemen. “A lot of these kids played with each other before. It’s not like a bunch of dudes who never met trying to work together.”


The bonding experiences the team missed out on last season have been regular occurrences this season. There have been team dinners, St. Pierre said, and some teammates have gone to breakfast together after those 5:30 a.m. practices at either Troubh or Travis Roy Arena in Yarmouth. Both rinks will serve as home ice for Cheverus/Yarmouth.

“They look for ways to get together and create that bond. This group has been pretty impressive so far with the culture they’ve created,” St. Pierre said.

Head Coach Dave St. Pierre instructs Cheverus/Yarmouth players during a practice at Troubh Ice Arena last week. “This group has been pretty impressive so far with the culture they’ve created,” St. Pierre says. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Cheverus/Yarmouth competes in Class B South. Along with games against the top teams in the region, including Greely, Cape Elizabeth and Brunswick, Cheverus/Yarmouth will face strong Class A competition like Scarborough, Falmouth, Edward Little and St. Dominic.

“Class B South is hard competition. There’s a lot of good teams, but I think we’ll be strong,” Robichaud said.

Maybe over the course of the season, a nickname will present itself. To the team, that’s not as important as just getting on the ice for a full season.

“We’re excited, first of all, to be back in action. The kids need that more than anything,” St. Pierre said. “You can see it on their faces. They’re just beaming.”

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