Co-Op Hockey Programs Balance a Season On the Edge

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Winter high school sports will start playing games next week. The high school hockey season is already precarious, but for co-ops, the teams relying on two or more schools to come together to fill a roster, it’s even more on edge.

“What happens if another school has an outbreak?” said Manchester senior Sam Hedlund. He plays on the Newington Hockey Co-Op with four other schools. “Will the whole team have to shut down?”

At Newington, their five-school co-op gives them some flexibility if one school has to put a pause on sports.

“We're fortunate where we're pretty even with the numbers so we could get by with one. Two might be a bit difficult,” said coach Dave Harackiewicz.

The split for Hall-Southington makes it more challenging. 21 players come from West Hartford’s Hall High School, so the Warrior-Knights just control what they can.

“Every day we're running between 2-4 locker rooms,” said coach Brian Cannon. “We don't even have kids from the same line in the same room.”

At least they can use a locker room. Newington gets dressed in the parking lot.

“Some days it’s a little chilly but it works fine, I’ll take what I’m given,” said Cromwell senior Kilian Ranger

That's the attitude across the board: whatever it takes to play.

“Before you know it, our season might be over because of COVID,” said Ranger.

“Any day something could happen, our numbers could go up and our careers might be over,” said Southington senior Tommy Nardi. “So you know, just appreciating any time we get to step on the ice.”

Per the CIAC’s winter sports plan, high school sports can start playing games on February 8.

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