October 30, 2013 - Four schools—one team.
When the puck drops later this month on the 2013-14 high school hockey season, Goodrich High School players will be lacing up their skates with a few new teammates.
Last year the LakeVille Falcons joined with new skaters from North Branch and Dryden, schools that have never had a high school hockey team. Now Goodrich will join those schools and form a hockey co-op forming one team called The Alliance. Home ice is Polar Palace, 3301 Lapeer Road, Lapeer. Tryouts are Nov. 5.
"The team has received approval from the Michigan High School Athletic Association and has been endorsed by all the high schools participating," said Dave Davis, Goodrich athletic director. "Funding for all teams was the key factor in the decision. Hockey is getting more and more expensive for schools, to sustain a program with acceptable numbers."
At an estimated cost of about $1,200 per player each season and a tight economy, parents have been finding it difficult to come up with the cash to pay the ice bill, added Davis.
"Teams really need somewhere between 22 to 25 players for a team," he said. "At the end of last season there were about 14 players. That's just too small for many reasons. It's just too physically demanding a sport for few players—safety is a major issue. We need to stay deep enough on the bench so there's a good mix of seniors and underclassmen to be ready for the next season. There's no junior varsity to act as a feeder to varsity."
Each hockey team needs two defensemen, a center, two wingers and a goalie.
"Three to four lines (of skaters) are best," said Davis.
Goodrich now joins the ranks of other school districts that have consolidated teams, such as the Brandon varsity hockey team which consolidated with players from the Kearsley and Holly school districts before the start of the 2011 season. When these schools joined Holly had no team and ice rental time was high, reported Brandon coaches to the school board. In addition, there were not enough players to field a team. The Brandon School Board unanimously approved moving forward with the application process which has allowed Brandon, Kearsley and Holly to form a team that can continue to compete in the Flint Metro League under Michigan High School Athletic Association regulations.
Atlas Township resident Tom Ferreri will be the new team coach. Ferreri coached the Lapeer Storm travel hockey team for about six years.
"The mix of players on the new team come from many different schools," he said. "Just like on a travel team, players come from many different backgrounds and have a variety of skill levels."
The team will still play within the Genesee Area Conference and have 20 games with one scrimmage. Due to the lack of teams within the GAC, games with Detroit area schools will also be played.
"It's an opportunity get out there with some really good programs," he added.
In years past Goodrich hockey had been on thin ice.
After 25 years, a lack of players coupled with a tough economy has prompted the end of the Martian hockey program for the 2008-09 season. According to school officials, the team had only nine kids sign up for hockey that year— pointing to several factors contributing to the halting of the team, including expense and travel teams that ran their teams during the high school season.
However, in the fall of 2009 the Martians hockey team returned for another season.
"This was the best move to play," said Scott Bogner, district superintendent. "As enrollment drops in school districts a co-op is the best option to keep a team."