High school notebook: Woodstock’s Gubbins best in Vt. D-I boys hockey

  • Woodstock High's Andrew Gubbins (5) works to split Lebanon-Stevens-Mount Royal defenders Will McGee (13) and Brian Daly (8) during the teams' Dec. 7, 2019, scrimmage at Campion Rink. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Andrew Gubbins

  • Longtime Stevens High basketball fans Dale Perkins, left, and Paul Lafreniere in an undated photograph. The Carr Gymnasium chairs in which the two frequently sat to watch games and tease referees now bear their names, having been dedicated in their honor during an NHIAA Division III boys hoop playoff game against Mascoma on March 3, 2021. Courtesy photoS

  • A banner honoring Stevens High basketball fans Dale Perkins and Paul LaFreniere hangs in Carr Gymnasium in Claremont, N.H. The seats in which the two men have sat for years to watch basketball and tease referees were dedicated in their honor on March 3, 2021. Courtesy photograph—

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 4/1/2021 4:29:33 PM
Modified: 4/3/2021 9:45:11 PM

WOODSTOCK — A coronavirus pandemic-shortened season didn’t leave Woodstock High forward Andrew Gubbins short on honors.

Vermont’s high school boys hockey coaches bestowed Division I player of the year honors upon Gubbins, a senior, in voting completed and announced at season’s end last week. The leader of a senior-laden roster, Gubbins guided the Wasps to a 3-3-2 mark and the fifth seed in the VPA D-I tournament.

Gubbins notched a team-high seven goals and nine points during the truncated schedule. Coach Jon Chamberlin believes his peers saw much more in Gubbins than what ordinarily hits the scoresheet.

“The consensus with the other coaches in D-I is that Andrew was most deserving because he plays 200 feet on a short-benched team,” Chamberlin wrote in a text on Wednesday. “He matured and grew over the summer and definitely had an extra step. He was the best forward in the division, in my eyes.”

Gubbins played all four varsity hockey seasons with the Wasps. He debuted with effect in 2017-18, netting 23 points as Woodstock won its first VPA Division II state championship in nearly 20 years. That’s the roster that included high-scoring Steven Townley, who’s scheduled to join the Dartmouth College men’s hockey program this fall.

Gubbins also led the Wasps last winter with 12 assists and 20 points. That squad went 15-3-2 before a D-II quarterfinal upset loss. With 10 seniors on this season’s team, the Wasps opted to compete in D-I for just the second time in school history, the other one coming four years ago.

Woodstock honors included second-team all-Division I spots for forward Charles Greene and defenseman Riley Shepherd. All three were also included for the annual Rotary All-Star Game, which won’t be played this month for pandemic reasons.

Chamberlin will have his hands full trying to find someone of Gubbins’ level next year.

“His play is always great, and you never have to worry about him systemically or his work ethic,” the sixth-year coach said. “A constant leader for us.”

Saved seats: Referees coming to Stevens High’s Carr Gymnasium to work basketball games next year won’t have as many voices in their heads. They’ll still be able to remember the gents who own them, however.

Dale Perkins and Paul LaFreniere frequented the Stevens barn for basketball games for decades, earning a reputation both for their support of the Cardinals and their occasional good-natured “recommendations” to officiating crews. Stevens athletic director Doug Beaupre honored both before a March 3 boys playoff game with Mascoma by dedicating the two seats in which they always sat high above the hardwood.

Carr Gym offers as unique a viewing experience as New Hampshire high schools provide, with balconies along both sidelines to counter for lack of courtside bleacher space. Inevitably, brothers-in-law Perkins and LaFreniere would plant themselves in the east-end corner, easily within vocal range of striped shirts and out-of-town coaches.

“In probably the late ’70s or early ’80s, they started coming to games,” recalled Beaupre, who sometimes heard the visiting coach’s end of it when he brought teams from Hinsdale High and Newport High in past years. “They just had fun. They were up there heckling the officials. They were sort of the two Muppet characters in the theater (Statler and Waldorf). They were just huge fans of Stevens athletes and basketball. …

“It was funny. They loved getting on officials, but it was always joking manner, and the veteran officials enjoyed it. They would spar back and forth with them. They knew it was always good-natured.”

Perkins graduated from Stevens in 1955, LaFreniere from the city’s defunct Catholic school, St. Mary’s, in 1962. Both spent most their professional lives working for Coca-Cola in Claremont. Perkins died in January at the age of 84; Beaupre said LaFreniere intends to keep coming to games as long as he can.

He has a reserved seat now, with his name on it and a banner hanging over it.

“They’d make things fun,” Beaupre said. “They made things funny.”

Bits-n-pieces: Hartford and Woodstock combined to place seven players on last week’s Vermont Girls Ice Hockey Coaches Association all-state team. The Hurricanes contributed senior forward Izzy Stack and junior defenders Sophie Trombley, Nora Knudsen and Grace Bazin. The Wasps delivered sophomore forward Isabel Konijnenberg, sophomore blueliner Lily Gubbins and junior forward Skylar Haley. … Hanover had two seniors, forward Sage McGinley-Smith and defender Natalie Morhun, on the New Hampshire hockey all-state girls hockey first team selected by the state coaches association. The same group chose only Lebanon senior forward Andrew Duany for D-III boys honorable mention and snubbed both the Hanover boys and Lebanon girls. … Hartford’s boys received no selections to the Vermont Division II all-state hockey roster.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.

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