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Milford Forced to Explore Hockey Co-Op

Milford High School athletic director Peter Boucher said lackluster numbers have pushed him to explore co-opting with another school to keep hockey alive for students at MHS next season.
"Right now we are in co-op mode, that's what we are looking into," he said. "We are under 10 [athletes] right now, we have not given up hope, but our numbers are just not there."
Boucher said varsity head coach Michael Balzarini met with middle school athletes skating with seventh and eighth grade teams to see how many would be interested in playing with the Scarlet Hawks next season. MHS had only 12 players this season — including three eighth graders — and struggled to an 0-17 record. 
"They checked in to see who was big enough, who was strong enough, who was fast enough to possibly compete at the varsity level. "We found that a lot of them are playing year round for club teams and would not be available to play with the school team. The problem is they signed up for these teams months ago."
Boucher has said he would like to see numbers into the low 20s to ensure a safe and competitive environment for hockey players, but has only nine athletes now, including students who will be in the eighth grade next year.
Complicating matters is the fact that the Hockomock League does not allow programs to co-op, so Milford will need to be a feeder team to another program and skate donning colors other than the scarlet and white. Boucher said he is in the early stages of searching for a potential match.
"We are putting the word out to anyone who is in jeopardy of not being able to field a team next year," he said, mentioning Hopedale, Ashland, and Dedham as possibilities. 
"We have not heard back from anyone yet," Boucher said. "We are just putting it on their radar."
Milford would like to have a home for its hockey players by September, Boucher said, adding "we are in no rush right now."
Boucher said co-op programs are typically cost-neutral for the team that serves as the host and usually less expensive for the team that joins the host.
"We would be willing to be the host team, but the Hockomock is not super interested in co-opting for any sports," Boucher said, noting the league has not given him a specific reason. "The league is so strong, if I had to guess, they feel like if you're in the league, you should not need another town to co-op with you. They have never done it, never allowed it, and they do not seem like they are going to start now."
With dwindling numbers and no option to host a co-op, Boucher said his only remaining option is to have his players play somewhere else.
"The effort is there, from the coaches, the administration, the athletic department," Boucher said. "Everyone is working hard to keep hockey as an option for kids who go to MHS."




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