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High school ice hockey

Windjammers frozen out of final events/gatherings — but not communication

Like so many winter teams, it was business as usual for Camden Hills — until it was not
By Ken Waltz | May 21, 2020
Courtesy of: Molly Cole Camden Hills ice hockey team members who participated in the intrasquad scrimmage were, front from left, Ben Wells, Nicholas Tausek Cole Freeman; second row (kneeling), Alex Kurzius, Levi Guay and assistant coach James Annis; and third row, Anna Griebel, Lucas Wyman, assistant coach Zach Hand, Hayden Thibeault, head coach John Magri, Chris Burns, assistant coach Harrison Rogers, Dylan Johnson, Quinn Brown, Rory Carlson, Caroline Contento, Elias Libby, Aiden Aselton, Jackson Bernier, Jason Greenleaf, William Gardner, Camden Powell, Jakob Johnson, Nolan Delehey, Andrew Orne and Charlie Griebel.

Rockport — It is typical for high school coaches and athletes to gather for a final awards ceremony and a review of the recently-completed campaign, but for many winter teams those gatherings were put on hold, canceled or handled in atypical ways.

The Camden Hills ice hockey was no exception as the Windjammers — as a team or individually — were frozen out of end-of-season events and a final get-together.

The Windjammers' story is not unlike so many school athletic squads which had to find alternative ways to stay connected.

So, in this age of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and social distancing, coach John Magri improvised and sent an email message to his players to keep them connected to what was another solid overall campaign for the Windjammers.

Camden Hills finished 11-4-3 and third in Class B North, after being ranked first for a large chunk of the winter campaign. The Windjammers then lost 6-1 to No. 6 Messalonskee of Oakland on Feb. 25 in a regional quarterfinal playoff game at the jammed-packed Midcoast Recreation Center.

"The close to the season was a rollercoaster ride," said Magri. "After spending a majority of the season in first to third place we beat the undefeated Hampden Academy team at home at the MRC in front of a packed house on our senior night on Feb. 15. Over the next five days Heal Points were all over the place and we finally landed a home playoff game on Feb. 25 in front of a crowd that I never imagined the MRC could hold. We suffered a tough upset loss to the No. 6 Messalonskee team, but it was such a positive season with such a tight-knit team that the players just didn’t want it to end and we were looking forward to the traditional events that end a season."

The Windjammers played their "friendly' intrasquad game on Feb. 27 "on our last sheet of ice" at MRC and the rest of the playoffs, sans Camden Hills, went ahead without a hitch, as Greely of Cumberland captured the state Class B championship on March 5.

All seemed normal.

"At that time, we were looking forward to attending the Class B North awards banquet on Sunday, March 15, two of our seniors were selected to represent the North in the Class B Senior All-Star Game on Saturday, March 14 and we had tentatively scheduled our own Camden Hills hockey banquet for Saint Patrick’s Day, Tuesday, March 17," Magri said.

Then things began to change.

As late as March 10 Magri had received emails from the Class B North coaches association that informed him seniors from the North would wear their dark jerseys for the senior all-star game and he also confirmed head counts for the Class B North banquet.

"March 12 it just felt like everything blew up," Magri said. "I received a communication form our superintendent of schools via an e-mail from Jeff Hart our athletic director suspending participation in all outside and student events. Just as I was pondering how to break the news to the players that they could not participate in the upcoming Class B events I received an email from the Class B North coaches association that both the banquet and senior all-star game had been postponed until May. So basically, on that day everything came to an end.

"On March 20 the Class B North coaches association made a decision to press release the league awards and determined there would be no banquet and no senior all-star game.

"Last week as graduation day loomed closer for my senior athletes, a postponed Camden Hills [ice hockey] banquet taking place prior to graduation just did not seem like a reality anymore. I wanted to recognize every player as I would have in a banquet setting and recognize their awards and accomplishments so I sent the email out to the team in an effort to connect with and recognize each and every one of them.

"Yes, it was simply an email as I really did not have any other options. In actuality as a winter sports coach, it has just been released by the [Maine Principals' Association] that I cannot interact with any of the players until July 7 and that, of course, is pending any changes. As we all know this has been a day-to-day adventure.

The following is the email sent by Magri to team members:

"In lieu of our seniors approaching graduation in less than a month and our ability to come together as a team one last time was taken away by this bizarre scenario that we have all found ourselves in, I find it necessary to recognize every player that contributed to the strength of our hockey program this year and the enthusiasm that we brought to our community. We have a great hockey culture and each and every one of you are an important part of that culture and will be for the rest of your lives. You won’t forget."

The following is a list of the program's members, with additional information where applicable:

Varsity — Andrew Orne (co-most valuable player, Hobey Baker Award, Class B North fourth-team all star, Class B senior all-star game), Quinn Brown (co-most valuable player award, Academic and Hockey Excellence Award, Class B North all-academic), Charlie Griebel (captain), Jason Greenleaf (captain), Levi Guay ('Jammer Award for hustle, determination, true grit, Class B North third-team all star), Ben Wells (captain, Jack Williams-Jim Heard Award for spirit of the game, sportsmanship, community leadership, Class B North honorable mention, Class B senior all-star game), Dylan Johnson (Practice Hard Hat Award), Anna Griebel, Caroline Contento, Lucas Wyman, Jakob Johnson, Camden Powell, Rory Carlson, Elias Libby (Class B North second-team all-rookie), Chris Burns, Nolan Delehey, William Gardner, Noah Quesnel, Hayden Thibeault, Nicholas Tausek and Jackson Bernier (Class B North third-team all star) received letters.

Junior varsity — Caroline Contento (captain), Rory Carlson (captain), Lucas Wyman (most valuable player), Camden Powell, Jakob Johnson, Cole Freeman, Aiden Aselton, Dylan Johnson, Anna Griebel, Elias Libby, Chris Burns, William Gardner, Jackson Bernier and Alex Kurzius received letters

"I wish I could have written a half-page on each of you as individuals about all of the isolated elite moments and contributions that you made to each other and the season, but that would have made an already oversized email ridiculous in scope," Magri wrote his players. "Seniors, I will figure out a way to get your 'bling' or 'hardware' to you or your families somehow in the hopefully not too far away normal future. Underclassmen your awards will be waiting for you when we hit the ice again this winter.

"Windjammers, thank you for making the 2019-2020 season the kind of journey that inspires greatness in the teams that will follow in your footsteps. If we are ever fortunate enough to bring a championship banner home to the MRC, understand that the pieces of yourselves that you left on the ice during the 2019-2020 season become the fuel that powers the success of the teams that come after you."

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