When the Matignon varsity hockey program collapsed this past fall, it left a major dent in one of the region’s most well-renowned “hockey schools.” Two weeks ago, the Boston Imperials announced a new venture along with Matignon, creating a new full-season academy program that will be based out of the school.
The Imperials will field teams at the U18, U16 and U15 levels and all the players will be enrolled at Matignon.
The Imperials hired Nate Bostic, a GM and head coach with the Islanders Hockey Club, to run the new academy. On Tuesday, the Imperials hired Matignon alum and longtime NHL forward Shawn McEachern to coach the U16 team. McEachern, who had a 15-year NHL career, has coached for the last 10 seasons at the Rivers School in Weston, Mass. Before Rivers, McEachern was on staff at Northeastern and UMass Lowell.
“To bring hockey back to the school is a cool thing,” McEachern said. “Looking at the success Mount St. Charles had this year, the academy model is a good model and it’s a good brand of hockey. I’m looking forward to working with the kids.
“When I was a kid, I wanted to go to Matignon and play for Marty Pierce. They were in the Garden every year. My brother was there in 1984 when they played Acton-Boxboro, and that team had Bobby Sweeney and Tom Barrasso. To see the program go down was disappointing, but it’s really great to have hockey back there again. I’m really excited about it.”
McEachern was explosive as a player at Matignon, scoring 201 points (113 goals, 88 assists) in just 58 games. From there he went on to star at Boston University, including an 82-point junior season, before signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team that drafted him in 1987.
McEachern’s 82 points are second all-time at BU in a single season.
The Imperials will play in the Beast League, while also playing in all of the top tournaments in the region, Bostic said.
The model will represent a unique destination for players who are looking for top-quality hockey while not giving away the high-school experience. Additionally, the team has received interest from players on the West Coast, who are looking for top hockey without the added expense of traveling every week.
“I think it’s attractive for players because you’re not traveling every weekend,” McEachern said. “Here, you’ll get a great high-school experience, you’ll still go to prom and you can go to baseball games and all that stuff, and play high-level hockey for your school.”
Bostic said that the Imperials were looking to partner with a school for an academy team for the last several months, and when Matignon couldn’t field a varsity team, there was an opening for the school to do something different.
“We’ve been working on this since September,” he said. “The school is still run by the Archdiocese, so we needed to get a lot of blessings.
“The Imperials have wanted to do an academy for a while. Coming from the Islanders, I saw some of the online academies and we really pushed to have a school involved with it. I think that makes for a better experience. When Matignon didn’t field a team, that was kind of the spark for us to have a relationship. We’re very excited and I think they are as well.”
Bostic said that the organization has already received inquiries from a “few hundred” players looking to get more information on the academy.
“The model is trending,” he said. “We only just announced this and we’ve had a lot of interest. I think we can offer players something pretty unique.”