Ruling supporting MPA creates concern for future of Massabesic hockey team

The ruling rendered on Tuesday upholding (for the present) the Maine Principals’ Association stance against varsity co-op teams among large schools affected more than just three Deering boys hockey players seeking to play for Portland.
It also set a precedent that could make it much tougher for large Class A schools with a small number of hockey players to find dance partners.
One such school is Massabesic of Waterboro, which even in the best of times have had difficulty finding enough players to stay competitive.
“There’s some concern,” said first year Massabesic athletic director Brendan Scully, “and there will need to be some changes going forward.”
The biggest change would be for Massabesic to be able to mesh forces with nearby Sanford —  which also happens to be its oldest rival.
The rub, of course, is that the combined populations of both Class A schools would be greater than the state’s largest high school, Lewiston, which is where the MPA draws the line on co-ops (the Portland and Deering girls hockey programs notwithstanding).
As well, Massabesic already has a co-op arrangement with Class C Old Orchard Beach, which in recent years has provided as many as three players (anyone remember the old “SeaStang” moniker?).
This year, Scully expects just one or two.
“It’s (still) great,” he said, “since we have (just) 14 or 15 ourselves. (But) we’re on the fence.”
Scully had hoped that a favorable ruling on Tuesday could have paved the way for an arrangement with Sanford, which dropped its varsity hockey program prior to last season due to lack of interest.
The remaining Redskins’ icers played a junior varsity schedule last year, but no such games are afoot for the new season.
The chances of a Route 4 union are slimmer as of Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Massabesic, who will have a new head coach in former assistant Loren Brooks, faces the prospect of following Sanford’s demise, since it will likely have more departing seniors, this year, than incoming freshmen.
“When they leave, next year,” said Scully, “it’s going to be very difficult to continue to go forward without the numbers.
“You really can’t play a Western Maine Class A varsity hockey schedule with 10 or 11 kids. It’s just not realistic. We’re hopeful to get through this season with a positive year, then appeal to the MPA next year.”
It is hoped that there will be a next year.