Over the years, a trend has developed in Connecticut among high school ice hockey state champions. High schools located in the southern region of Connecticut have won the majority of ice hockey state championships dating back to the 1960s. In the above map, markers are placed on locations of state champions in their respective divisions over the past 10 years. In Division 1, where a team north of New Britain has only won a state championship once since 2000 (Simsbury in 2003), the disparity is considerable.
Josh Schachter, founder of HockeyBarn.com, believes the main reason for the disparity is stronger youth programs in towns located in southern Connecticut.
“I think it starts with the feeder programs,” Schachter said. “You can speculate a few reasons for this. But whatever the case may be, youth hockey in the southern part of the state seems to start out stronger than its northern counterpart.”
Southern Conn. teams such as Hamden, West Haven, Fairfield Prep and Notre Dame- Fairfield have dominated Connecticut high school ice hockey. However, there are teams from the northern region of Connecticut that are slowly making a name for themselves. The Glastonbury Tomahawks made it to the CIAC Division 1 state championship game last year before losing to Hamden. The Tomahawks finished this season 15-6-1. A record of this magnitude is impressive, yet some may discredit their success due to a weak strength of schedule.
“Respect for northern teams is few and far between,” Glastonbury goalie and captain Chris Hemhauser said. “Being from Glastonbury we have gotten some respect after our record these past few years, but no other team from the north is considered a true threat in the south.”
As Glastonbury continues to show improvement, other teams from the north are beginning to do the same. Schachter believes that although the southern teams will continue to be successful, the northern teams will one day compete with them and capture state championships of their own.
“As a youth hockey coach in northern Connecticut, I see the tremendous talent at the youth level on almost a daily basis during the winter. It’s just a matter of harnessing that talent at the high school level,” Schachter said. ” There’s absolutely no reason that the teams from the north cannot be the best in the state, it just may not happen over night.”