The North Suburban Wings program announced on Wednesday that they are launching the North Shore Hockey Academy out of their home at the Essex Sports Center in Middleton, Mass.
The Wings, which are owned by Chris Nagy, took over the lease at the Essex Sports Center last summer.
“I feel like I have a good grasp on where the market is going here,” Nagy said. “Once I got the rink, this idea of an academy was always in the back of my mind.”
Last month, Nagy was let go as head coach at BB&N in Cambridge, amid reports that parents were complaining to school officials about ice time, among other things. BB&N has now gone through four coaches in four years, with longstanding rumors that overzealous parent involvement has disrupted the ability for coaches to grow the program.
“When the BB&N stuff came to a sudden halt, I thought this felt like the right time to launch the academy,” Nagy said. “I believe we can be a really good option for the middle-class hockey family that is looking for their son to play at a high-level but also train at a high level.
“Prep school has a stronghold on the exceptional students and the wealthier families that can afford the tuitions. Some of these schools, you’re talking about spending $200,000 and that’s before you even look at colleges. I think middle-class families get stuck in the middle. If you have a player who is capable of playing at that level, but you can’t afford the tuition, where do you go? They want to do what’s best for their son or daughter, but it’s hard to afford prep school tuition. That’s where I think we come in. We’re going to be a good option for those families who need something more affordable, still want a good education and also train for elite hockey.”
One of the biggest components is that NSHA players will have the chance to train with legendary strength coach Mike Boyle, who has a facility inside the Essex complex. The players will also have daily skills and team practices during the day.
“That opportunity, and the facility, it will be what sets us apart,” Nagy said.
The academy is planning to start with a U18 team for next season and then will likely branch out the following year with teams at the U14 and U16 levels. The academy has partnered with Edgenuity, which is an online school that has created an NCAA-approved online learning curriculum, which will be taught by state-certified virtual instructors; all student-athletes will take classes through Edgenuity.
Nagy said that they are building out locker rooms, synthetic-ice shooting stations and classrooms for the academy players at the Essex Sports Center.
“The facility is great and having everything in one place is very exciting,” Nagy said. “The facility is essentially a blank canvas for us.
“The sky is the limit. We want to eventually be a top-20 program in the U.S. that feeds players to the NAHL, USHL and hopefully the NCAA.”
Nagy has tabbed Chris MacInnis to be the U18 head coach. A Waltham, Mass. native, MacInnis played four seasons at Salem State and also served as an assistant coach with Salem State from 2015-18.
Most recently, MacInnis was with the Northern Cyclones Academy program as an assistant coach with the U16, U18 and U15 teams as well as serving as the skills director for the Cyclones’ youth program.
“He’s going to do a great job,” Nagy said. “He’s the guy for us to get this off the ground and create buzz. I know he’s excited about it and we’re very excited to have him. He has a lot of experience at a lot of different levels and the kids really relate to him.”