When Matt Reid was a high-scoring winger for the South Carolina Stingrays, he played every shift like it might be his last.
USA Hockey High School Nationals
What: USA Hockey High School Nationals
Who: Bishop England/Porter-Gaud vs. Bozeman, MT.
When: Thursday, 12:15 p.m.
Where: Reston, Va.
It was the way Reid was taught to play hockey when he was growing up in Massena, N.Y., and his passion for the game hasn’t faded since he hung up his skates after the 2008 season.
As much joy as he got out of playing, Reid said it doesn’t compare to the thrill of coaching Bishop England/Porter-Gaud United, a team of high school students that went undefeated and won the South Carolina state title last month. Beginning Thursday, Bishop England/Porter-Gaud United will be competing in the USA Hockey Nationals in Reston, Va. The team from Charleston will face a squad from Bozeman, Mont., in the opening round of group play in the three-day tournament.
Reid, who played in the ECHL, the American Hockey League and in Europe, said nothing he did as a player can compare to what he’s experienced as a coach the last three years. Reid led the BE/P-G team to the state finals before, but never captured a state championship until this season. The Bishops/Cyclones beat the Columbia Fusion, 4-1, in the final.
“I tell the kids all the time that this is where we were all meant to be,” said Reid, who played for the Stingrays from 2004-08. “I’ve been all over the country and over in Europe playing hockey, but this is where I belong. I love coaching. I love these kids and what they’ve done for me. I love being a coach and being around the game helping these kids get better. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”
The Bishops/Cyclones finished with a 17-0-0 record. At the beginning of the season, Reid said he wasn’t sure what to expect.
“I certainly didn’t think we’d go undefeated,” Reid said. “I thought we’d be something like 9-4. We lost some good players from the year before and we were pretty young. I felt like we’d have some talent, but it was young and you never know how they’re going to respond.”
One of the keys for the Bishops/Cyclones was the play of goalie Nick Schoephal. The junior goalie, whose brother Brian died last summer, has been a rock for the team’s defense.
“Nick is the best goalie in the league and I don’t think he’s been really tested all season,” Reid said. “Nick is a quiet kid and I know Brian’s death really affected him. We dedicated the season to Brian’s memory.”
Two other key components of the team are defenseman Parker Brown and team captain Andrew Jones.
Brown, a sophomore, is a natural forward, but Reid moved him to the blue line. Brown finished second in the league in scoring with 36 points on 18 goals and 18 assists.
“Parker has a ton of skill and I told him that he could control the game from the blue line because he was so good,” Reid said. “The more the puck is on his stick the better we seem to play. He makes good decisions with the puck.”
Jones, a junior, has been a solid two-way defenseman for the Bishops/Cyclones. Jones had six goals and 18 assists in 12 games.
“Andrew is a tall, lanky strong defenseman that could probably play up North with an elite prep school,” Reid said. “He plays the body, finishes his checks. He’s no fun to play against.”
Reid said he’s not sure what to expect during the national tournament.
“We’re going to go up there and hopefully make some noise,” Reid said. “Everyone, the players and the parents, are so excited to see what we can do. If we can keep our game simple I don’t see why we can’t go up there and compete with anybody.”