The national champions from Mount St. Charles — head coach Matt Plante, program director Devin Rask and team captain Zach Aben — are the guests on the latest edition of the RinkWise podcast.
Last month, Mount St. Charles, which boasts a hockey academy attached to its high school, claimed an 18-U Tier 1 national championship at USA Hockey Nationals in Michigan. It was the first such championship for Mount St. Charles, which won 26 consecutive Rhode Island state championships from 1978-2003 under late coach Bill Belisle.
Plante and Rask, who previously ran the South Kent Selects academy in Connecticut, arrived at Mount St. Charles in August 2018.
On the podcast, they talk about how they have built the program into a champion so quickly. They and Aben also discuss the high points of their run to the title this year and what has made Mount St. Charles so successful to this point.
On what they expected when they first had discussions with Mount St. Charles about working there:
Plante: It’s funny because I think about that phone call, four years ago now, the inquiry about maybe coming to Mount St. Charles. I remember talking to Devin about it, and we were just kind of like, “We’ll go down. It’s Mount St. Charles.” Like, it’s worth hearing what they have to say. Devin and I, on the way down, we’re just going to go in there and tell them exactly what it’s going to take and what we’re going to need, and their hair is going to be blown back and we’ll be back at South Kent. And it was kind of a roundtable discussion. And we just talked about the vision of what Mount wanted to do. And we talked about our vision of what we want to do, if we were to do that at Mount St. Charles, like what our vision is and what it was going to take to do that. And we felt that the vision certainly matched and lined up. The one thing that we weren’t anticipating was we were the ones that got our hair blown back. We were just so impressed by the commitment level.
On what’s next for Mount St. Charles:
Plante: We can’t take our foot off the gas because we want to keep getting better. We want to see our players have success. It’s exciting. The other day we had a player text us. He just committed to an Ivy League school, a player that graduated last year. And those are things like, “Awesome.” The fact he’s sending us a text and thanking us and we’re like, “Hey, we’re pumped for you. Like, you put all the work in.” So that’s a reward. But we got to keep building because there’s a lot of other academies out there. There’s a lot of other programs out there, and they’re pushing.
On how Aben decided to commit to Mount St. Charles:
Aben: I was deciding either to go to prep school or academy, and I didn’t know much about the academy. But I sat down with Coach Rask, with my parents and eventually went over to Mount for a tour. And I got to do a shadow day at the school. … So I was fully committed from the beginning. And what made my decision so easy, I just felt, like, so genuinely wanted. And it just felt like home, like the minute I toured. So I knew when I left there. My mom always makes comments about it, how she knew how happy I was. I can’t be more thankful for the opportunity that I’ve had from either Coach Rask, Coach Plante and everyone else who’s been been a part of it. And it was honestly an easy decision for me, just based off of how I felt when I was on campus in the old barn. That was just something that really excited me as a 15-year-old kid moving away from home.