Critics of the move to Division 1 will point to the records of Newburyport and Triton in the Division 2 state tournament in recent years. Triton is 1-3 under Wile since his return in 2009. Newburyport is 0-3 in the last three years.
“We want to offer the best possible program for our kids,” Yameen said. “If you don’t play your best and you don’t get the bounces, you don’t win the tournament. It’s a one-game series. I’m not going to take getting bounced from the tournament the last couple of years and change our mind. This is years in the making.”
Last season, there wasn’t much of a gap in talent between the Division 2 North champion Wilmington and the Division 1 North champion Burlington. In fact, Wilmington went 2-0 during the season against Burlington.
But truth be told, the goal for Yameen and Wile is to take teams to the most elite Division 1 tournament — the Super Eight. That is typically a select tournament for the top Catholic schools in the region, such as St. John’s Prep, BC High, Austin Prep, Catholic Memorial and Malden Catholic, among others, with the occasional public school in the mix.
Yameen and Wile both hope that this jump to Division 1 will give local players pause before they leave their local communities to play hockey at private schools. Two other improvements that factor in the coaches’ attempt to keep local talent are the pending Graf Rink locker room renovation project and the Newburyport Bank Tournament.
The coaches started a fundraising effort, which has netted $140,000, all of which will go toward updating the locker rooms so they are on par with all other North Shore rinks. The Newburyport Bank Tournament will now have a Division 1 bracket with Newburyport, Triton, Andover and Matignon. Mansfield also inquired about joining this year, so Yameen is hoping to have a second Division 1 bracket next year.