hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

Sports

January 11, 2012

Co-op team finds its skating legs

Three wins in one hockey season is usually not something to celebrate. But for the Amesbury-Whittier team, it is a sign of progress and how far the team has come in the last year. The Amesbury-Whittier team has already surpassed its win total of a season ago, when the co-op team went 2-14-4.

The team, which is split about 50-50 between players from Whittier Tech and Amesbury High, is under the guidance of experienced coach Chris Kuchar, who is in his second year as head coach. When Kuchar took over the program last season, he knew that the team had a lot of work to do after going just 6-67-6 in the four years prior to his joining the staff.

"Last year I found out that there was a lot of change needed," said Kuchar. "Discipline, commitment, effort, structure, focus and team play were not there. It was a bunch of kids from different schools who weren't playing together. They were playing as individuals."

This year, Amesbury-Whittier scored the elusive third win in just the sixth game of the season. The team is now 3-4-0 and trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Although the wins are nice, Kuchar said, he expects there to be bumps in the road because of the talent disparity between his squad and some of rival teams.

"We can't really measure ourselves with wins and losses," said Kuchar. "At this stage of our program, we measure it by if kids are buying into our program. Once everyone buys in and collectively agrees on a direction. The wins and losses will come with that."

Kuchar has a long history in local hockey. He was born and raised in Haverhill and was the captain of the 1989 Haverhill hockey team, which was one of the most successful in school history, winning 17 games.

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