As the clock hit 0:00, jubilant players wearing the red, white and blue of Mount Saint Charles surged toward their goaltender to celebrate a championship. It’s a familiar scene in New England, reminiscent of the 26 straight Rhode Island state crowns Mount Saint Charles won under late coach Bill Belisle.
Only this wasn’t the Rhode Island Interscholastic League playoffs. This was a USA Hockey Tier 1 18-under national championship won by Mount Saint Charles’ academy team in Rochester, Mich., as the nation’s best full-season Midget squad.
Welcome to the new and ever-more-crowded world of elite boys hockey in New England.
Where once prep schools were the undisputed top producers of area talent to the NCAA and pro hockey ranks, academies — essentially hockey factories that offer schooling and housing along with full-season hockey development — like Mount Saint Charles, South Kent Selects and other burgeoning programs are taking bigger shares of the player pools.