HALLOWELL — And you thought your vacation was short.
Only a few days removed from ending their respective fall sports seasons, members of the Winslow/Gardiner/Cony girls hockey co-operative team were on the ice Tuesday for the first day of practice.
Gardiner sophomore Lindsey Bell enjoyed a full two days off between her Tigers winning a Class B field hockey state championship Saturday and lacing up the skates to take her first twirls of the new winter season at the Camden National Bank Ice Vault.
“I got two days of break. Two days,” Bell said. “Sunday and Monday, and that was it. I like to be busy, so it’s good for me.”
Girls hockey teams are allowed to begin practicing two weeks before the rest of the winter sports get rolling with their first official workouts of the new season. Basketball teams and boys hockey teams begin Nov. 19.
Like Bell, Desiree Veilleux had a quick turnaround from fall to winter. The Winslow senior was a member of the Black Raiders’ regional finalist soccer team which finished its season last Wednesday.
“I had five, five-ish days off. I was really excited, though, to get back to this to see everyone again,” Veilleux said. “You just kind of look forward to it all the time. You get excited to see your teammates. We’re all really close now after these years.”
Gardiner senior Anna Chadwick, whose Tigers did not qualify for the girls soccer tournament, was as eager as anyone to be back on the ice.
Like Veilleux, she was a member of the first Winslow/Gardiner team in the 2016-17 season — a co-op which has now added four Cony players for the first time in the program’s brief history.
“It’s my favorite sports season. It’s different than the rest of them,” Chadwick said. “I like how we’re in a co-op team, and we get to come back and see our friends. We were all strangers (three years ago) and it was a little bit awkward. That’s definitely faded. Desiree’s one of my besties now.”
For Alan Veilleux, entering his second year as head coach, he’s not worried about the short layoff between seasons. Instead, he’s worried about how he’s going to replace the eight seniors he graduated, including the team’s leading scorer Evelyn Hinkley and starting goaltender Cassie Demers.
“Hockey is hockey. It’s a different sport,” he said. “The majority of our girls have played before, so they know what it’s like and what to expect. We set our expectations early, and they respond to it pretty well.”
Desiree Veilleux likes that hockey has a different feel, particularly with a co-op team.
It’s one of the rare instances in high school sports where teammates and friends don’t get the chance to spend time together every day away from the field, the court or the rink.
“At first it was hard to get to know everyone because of the distance (between the towns) and you don’t see each other every day,” she said. “But after a while, after three years, you get to know the girls and you start to form a bond.
“That’s what makes hockey fun, it’s the friendships. That’s how you go far as a team, is with that (bond).”
As for Bell, whose Gardiner team beat — you guessed it — Winslow in the reginal final to advance to the state game, she said there’s no lingering hard feelings from one sport to the next.
“We all respect each other, we all like each other,” Bell said. “It’s fun to play with each other or against each other. We all get along, we all welcome each other. We’re a pretty good team.”
Travis Barrett — 621-5621