The Midcoast Ice Cats returned to the ice Dec. 2 at the Midcoast Recreation Center and hope for another successful season of high school hockey.

The campaign did not begin as hoped, however, against visiting Hampden Academy Thursday, as the Broncos left town with an 8-0 win over the local squad.

Now in their sixth season and led by coach Mike Schroeder, the Ice Cats are a cooperative coed ice hockey club team made available for area high schools that do not offer ice hockey as a varsity sport. The team’s schedule consists of both Class A and Class B varsity and jayvee ice hockey programs.

This season, student-athletes from Rockland District High School, Belfast Area High School, Georges Valley High School, Mount View High School, Medomak Valley High School and Camden Hills Regional High School make up  the squad. Camden Hills student are also eligible to try out for the Ice Cats permitting they do not make, or try out for, the Windjammer varsity ice hockey team.

The 2010-11 Ice Cats include seniors Jacob Perry (RDHS), Tyler Hadyniak (Mount View), Tyler Fogg (RDHS) and Kyle Hadyniak (Mount View); juniors Parker Spear (RDHS), Yannick Price-Prevot (Medomak Valley) and A.J. Naum (Medomak Valley); sophomores Cal Robbins (Medomak Valley), Shelby Fogg (RDHS), Jackie Baker (GVHS), Kerry Madden (Medomak Valley) and Kenny Scheimreif (Medomak Valley); and freshmen Shawn Secotte (BAHS), Lea Smith (CHRHS), Noah Klewin (BAHS) and Sean Beacham (CHRHS). The Hadyniaks are brothers.

Lost to graduation were McKinley Schroeder (BAHS), Morganne Price-Prevot (MVHS), Christian Kirchner (RDHS) and Kent Bradstreet (BAHS).

Last season, the Ice Cats had a strong season, finishing 15-5-2.

Coach Schroeder is pleased with his nucleus of players among the diverse group as the team has four seniors, three juniors, five sophomores and four freshmen spanning six different high schools.

“Practices have been strong,” said Schroeder. “We have a number of returning key players, and I think we’re going to be strong on defense. The [freshmen] we have really have experience. We have two girls on the team and I really feel like we’re going to be competitive.”

Schroeder said he feels this year’s team is ahead of where last year’s squad was at this point in the season, and that he is looking forward to continuing to watch the program grow.

“If we stay healthy and we work hard, I think we’re going to be OK,” he said.

Coach Schroeder said he feels strong seasons are likely on the brink for Robbins, Spear, Price-Prevot and Perry, while some of the younger players, such as Scheimreif, who has played hockey at the state level with the Maine Hurricanes, should also have an impact on this year’s Ice Cats’ squad.

“Our key is going to be our depth and what kind of productivity we can get out of our second and third lines,” the coach said. “Our defense is solid. I don’t believe scoring will be an issue, but our big question mark right now is goaltending.”

The Ice Cats will face Hampden Academy, Waterville, Lewiston, Oxford Hills of South Paris, Winslow and John Bapst of Bangor, among others, and coach Schroeder feels if the ‘Cats can mirror the efforts of last year’s team, the season will be a rousing success.

“Last year we had a record of 15-5-2,” he said. “If we could get to something like that, I’d call that a successful year. I think things like goaltending, taking advantage of our opportunities and staying out of the penalty box will be key to the season.”

On Thursday in the Ice Cats’ season and home opener, Hampden Academy scored three goals in the first period, two in the second and three in the third en route to the lopsided win. Goalie Jacob Ward recorded the shutout between the pipes for the Broncos. Goal scorers for Hampden Academy were Nate Baxter with three, Cooper Williams and Mark Eldridge both two and Will Manning one.

For the Ice Cats, Spear made 24 saves in goal. The Ice Cats were short-handed six times and gave up three power-play goals. The Ice Cats were outshot 32-12.

The team’s remaining schedule, with games to be added, includes:

Thursday, Dec. 9 — Waterville at Ice Cats, 4:20 p.m. (MRC)
Wednesday, Dec. 15 — Ice Cats at Winslow, 2:50 p.m. (Sukee)
Friday, Jan. 7 — Ice Cats at Oxford Hills, 5 p.m. (Bridgton)
Saturday, Jan. 8 — Ice Cats at John Bapst of Bangor, 8:10 p.m. (Sawyer)
Thursday, Jan. 20 —  Winslow at Ice Cats, 4:20 p.m. (MRC)
Thursday, Jan. 27 —  Waterville at Ice Cats, 4:20 p.m. (MRC)
Saturday, Jan. 29 —  Lewiston at Ice Cats, 4:30 p.m. (MRC)
Wednesday, Feb. 2 — Ice Cats at Lewiston, 3:40 p.m. (Colisee)
Monday through Wednesday, Feb. 21-23 — Ice Cats at jayvee tournament, TBA (Sukee)

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.