Feeder Program Aims to Grow KP Girls Hockey

Christopher Tremblay Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
March, 2018
Article Body: 

Over the past four years, the King Philip girls hockey team has secured a playoff berth in the Division 2 State Tournament. Unfortunately, the Warriors have yet to get out of the first round, losing in the initial contest all four times.
Two years ago King Philip added a junior varsity team to the program, and the Warriors are hoping that this year the feeder program will push them out of the first round and allow them to go deeper into the tournament.
“Playing in our third season with a junior varsity program we have been very successful thus far,” KP coach Jack Unger said. “We’ve only lost five games the first two years and so far this season we only have one. The support of the school committee and the AD has been great and fortunately we have a number of girls who want to play hockey.”
Having a JV program is a key to success; without such a program it can be very tough to advance to the next level with the varsity squad. In the past, Unger has housed as many as 12 athletes on the team, but the numbers are down this season so the coach has been forced to move the fourth line from the varsity team down to stabilize the team on game day. Normally these girls wouldn’t see a lot of ice time so it seems to be a win-win situation.
“Fortunately the King Philip towns have had an influx of incoming freshman with experience and more qualified,” Unger said. “The first year we had a couple of girls who had never skated before but really wanted to give hockey a try. It was a challenge for them to contribute but it was definitely a learning experience.”
According to the KP coach, girls hockey seems to be growing, but it’s not universal within the state. Many schools don’t have a consistent JV program. One year a school may have a team and the next they won’t. With the up and down scenario playing out throughout the state, quality is also an issue. With no official league, coaches and athletic directors have to go out and assemble a schedule based upon their needs.
“The main issues are trying to put together a balanced schedule, one which is comprised of competitive teams that are rewarding to play,” the coach said. “Luckily it has not been all that difficult for us. We have been able to get some games with established programs like Natick, Canton and Franklin.”
The Warriors JV program plays approximately 14 games a year, with about 10 of those being at their home arena in Norfolk. As the program continues to get better, Unger is hoping that more young girls become interested in the sport. Playing on the lower level team before entering high school will help make a seamless transition to the varsity program, and that in turn should allow KP to compete against the upper echelon of talented teams in the area.