Hanover’s Hockey Teams: A Tradition of Excellence
The Hanover hockey program started in 1934 and since then the boys team has won nine state titles. Hanover was the first team to win a state title that’s name was not Berlin or Notre Dame. Hanover’s record overall record is 831 wins 531 losses and 47 ties. If that record doesn’t blow your mind then here are some more facts. Hanover has made it to 15 state championship games, has had seven New Hampshire Players of the Year, and three players drafted into the National Hockey League. The program is a well known and respected program not just through our state, but the entire northeast. The success of these teams lays on the shoulders of the local youth program HHA and the high school coaching staff over the years. The current head coach is Hanover graduate Dick Dodds, his assistant coaches are (nephew) Cody Dodds and Dean Cashman, also Hanover graduates. Coach Dodds has led the team for over 35 years. As of 2012 when he was inducted into the New Hampshire Legends of Hockey Hall of fame, he had an overall coaching record of 430-229-19. The Coach of the girls team is also a Coach Dodds, brother of the coach of the boys team How many high school programs can claim brothers as coaches in two highly successful sports programs? Hanover is very lucky to have the support of the Dodds family in head and assistant coaching positions. The time and dedication to the sport from their family alone, is a large factor in the Tradition of Excellence, for both programs.
The Hanover Girls Hockey team was introduced to state play in 2010, and has won all but one state championship title since the inception of New Hampshire girls high school hockey. In an interview with Girls Hanover High hockey player Leslie Mcnamara, she said “It’s a little bit nerve racking going into games knowing that you’re expected to go all the way and win a state championship. If we lost I wouldn’t just feel bad for my team, I would feel like we would be letting down all of the previous teams who have kept this win streak going.”. These are high expectations, but every year the girls seem to end up raising that trophy. This year the girls have a record of five wins and no losses. The most impressive part of their record is that they have only been scored on twice all year and have scored a total of 57 goals. The girls are once again favored to be claiming the state title in March.
These two programs are highly successful for multiple reasons. Hanover has always been a hockey town, we have programs to be proud of from learn to skate all the way to college hockey. The strength of the high school program has long been attributed to the depth of available youth hockey in our area. The Hanover Hockey Association otherwise known as the Hanover Wild, has teams that you can play on beginning at age four, right up until you switch into the high school program at 16 years old. In an interview with Boys Hanover High hockey player Jake Acker, he said “HHA changed my hockey life, without them i don’t know if I would still be playing. Just the bond that I made with the kids on my team back when I was 10 still brings back good memories.”. Jake is now one of the leading scorers on his team this year. A unique strength of girls hockey exists locally because unlike many youth hockey programs HHA cool HHA has a dedicated girls program starting at U10, although it is not required that girls choose girls hockey, it is an option. This gives young girls a place to play where they feel most comfortable and has proven to be very successful. Even still, most girls continue to try out for the co-ed squirts, peewee and bantam level teams, from ages 10-15. The girls that stay in the boys program such as Maddie Hartman, who has now played for the USA U18 women’s hockey team and Eliza Laycock who is one of the girls leading scorers, benefit from being able to play co-ed until high school. They come into high school hockey ready for anything. The girls who play co-ed, are usually the top competitors in the girls high school program.
Playing for any Hanover hockey team is an honor. The Girls and Boys high school programs create some of the best hockey players in the northeast. This year both Hanover teams plan on bringing the state title home in March. Clearly the success of these teams lays on the shoulders of the youth program HHA, and the dedication of the high school coaching staff. From the time kids start the Hanover Wild program they dream of one day playing for either Coach Dodds. Without the strength of the Wild kids would not be able to play the amount of hockey necessary to make them into State Championship high school hockey players that Coaches Dodds are looking for. Whenever you put on a Hanover jersey you honor the tradition of excellence that they have helped create, that all began in 1934.
The Hanover Girls hockey team is known for their amazing winning program. So amazing that they frequently have to leave the NHIAA division to play better teams. Hanover is known for its high scoring winning games 10, 13 or even 16 to zero. This year Hanover has already beaten three of their four in state games by more than 12 goals to zero. The only competitive game they have had this year was an out of league contest against Essex, VT, Vermont’s defending state championship winners. Hanover invited them and other out of state teams to a winter holiday tournament. Hanover met Essex in the finals and took the game to overtime where they won just minutes into the final third period. In an interview with Leslie Mcnamara one of Hanover’s defensive players she said, “That was one of the most fun games i’ve played in a while. I love nail biters, obviously this game worked out well and we ended up on the winning side but it was just so much fun to face competition, and not win 14 or 16 to nothing. Those games can get boring, obviously they are fun but it just gets a little old”. During their season Hanover will play six teams from Massachusetts and/or Vermont that are at the top of their own state standings. Hanover does this so that they can improve as a team. Even though they aren’t playing an in-state team the win or loss will still count towards their NHIAA record. Which is important to note, because they could easily skate along in New Hampshire and dominate, never seeing much competition. However they choose to take the chance of a loss to their stellar record, in order to improve. That makes theses out of state competitions a very big deal.
The out of state teams Hanover plays are always happy to play Hanover. They also love the competition. As I was standing in the stands watching the girls play the championship game against Essex, I overheard one of the Essex parents say that this is one of the best hockey games they had seen in awhile. Even though the score won’t show a win/win for both teams, in essence it truly is. Both teams revel in the opportunity to play such a competitive opponent and risk their records to do it. That is truly a remarkable thing and the mark of true sports(wo)men.