The changing complexion of the CAL
Once considered one of the top hockey conferences in Division 2, the Cape Ann League has taken major hits in the last five years. Perennial CAL championship contender Wilmington left the CAL after the 2009-10 season to join the Middlesex Conference. Another top-tier CAL team, North Andover, left after the 2010-11 season for the Merrimack Valley Conference. Masconomet is expected to leave the CAL after this season. Longtime Lynnfield coach Vin Mirasolo left for a job with Division 1 Melrose last season.
The only addition to the CAL in recent years has been Saugus, although the Sachems are not nearly as competitive as they were when they won back-to-back Division 2 state titles in 2003 and 2004.
“My gripe is let’s up the bar (in the CAL),” Yameen said. “Let’s up the ante. I don’t want to see our league scheduling Division 3 teams constantly in non-league games.”
Many of Yameen’s top players commit to his year-round training program. It was by design that Yameen’s two Garden teams in 2009 and 2010 wore teams down late in games through physical play.
“I want my guys fit and strong year-round,” Yameen said. “This is something that’s bugged me for years. You watch a D1 game, it’s refereed completely different. We’ve been hurt by our physicality. I have 15 sheets of D1 games in my office, and there’s an average of five penalties a game. I look at our D2 sheets — 18 penalties. It’s much more physical and much faster in Division 1.”
The D1 landscape
Yameen started scheduling Division 1 teams for non-league games a few years after he took over at Newburyport, and Wile has followed suit in his short time at Triton. Both teams have posted records of .500 or better against Division 1 foes under their current coaches.