Millis-Hopedale Hockey Co-Op Now a Five-School Mix

Christopher Tremblay
The Millis-Hopedale hockey connection that began five years ago is entering its sixth year with players from Milford (added last year), and this year, from Douglas and Whitinsville-Christian. The added schools may draw the depth of players needed to see tournament play again this year.
Issue Date: 
December, 2017
Article Body: 

Last year the Hopedale-Millis hockey team earned their first tournament appearance in their five-year existence of the program. After going 10-9-1, Hopedale-Millis earned a six seed in the Division 3A Central Tournament, but unfortunately lost to Grafton, the eventual Division 3 State Champion, 2-1 in double overtime.
After having their best season with 10 wins, the squad graduated only two seniors and should be in good shape to get back to the tournament this upcoming season.
“We lost two seniors, but they were big parts to our team,” Coach Greg LaBossiere said. “We are still looking to get further this season and go deeper into the tournament t than we did last year.”
Now in the sixth year of existence, the Raiders have added Douglas and Whitinsville-Christian as well as Milford last year to the co-op program, giving them the added depth the bigger schools already have in their hockey program.
“We’ve had a great relationship with football (Hopedale and Millis) and being able to add Milford has really helped. Being so close to one another a lot of the kids were friends already,” the Coach said. “As a team, we’ve continued to have decent numbers, but in order to be successful, we needed to build a junior varsity team that would act as our feeder program.”
LaBossiere said being the coach of the five schools that are involved in the program is a lot of work, but he sees the progress moving forward on the ice.
“It’s not an easy thing to manage five Athletic Directors, making sure they communicate with the athletes. It’s hard enough to deal with one, never mind five,” he said. “When I first took over this program, we had some big personalities on the team that were already set in their ways. It’s tough to mold the older kids, but through the years, the younger kids bought into our system, and we have continued to grow.”
This past year, the new program was to get new uniforms, so LaBossiere looked to his team for input. The players decided on a red, white and blue uniform with the Raider emblem on the front of their jersey. Looking to wear the new jerseys with pride from Millis will be Colin Burgess, Peter Sanchioni, Drew O’Reilly, Craig Brooks and John Manning.
Burgess, a senior this year, will be suiting up for Hopedale-Millis for his final campaign. The senior defender has been skating for the team since eighth grade and according to his coach has improved immensely.
“As an eighth grader, Colin played on the junior varsity team, but didn’t really see that much action that first year,” LaBossiere said. “The next two years he played with the varsity team, but it was last year that he really emerged as one of our top defenders.”
Sanchioni, a junior defender, has been with the team since his freshman year while another junior, Drew O’Reilly, has played forward for both the JV and Varsity squads. On the JV team O’Reilly found himself as a top line forward, but when he suited up for the varsity team he skated on the third line. LaBossiere is hoping that this year he can step his game up and step into one of the top two lines for the Raiders.
As a first-year defender last winter, Brooks found himself bouncing between the JV and Varsity teams, this year he’s going to be looked upon to take his game to the next level.
“In addition to his defensive game, he is also a very good offensive threat,” the coach said. “With a ton of defensemen, we may need to move some up to play offense, and he may be one of those individuals.”
LaBossiere is hoping that the five-town squad came come together sooner than later and make another run at the tournament, and the Millis players will be a key component to the Raiders’ success.