Wahconah, Pittsfield and Taconic co-op as Warriors for 2017-18 ice hockey season

PITTSFIELD — Once they were fierce rivals on the ice. So when Taconic's Nikos Gian found out that his hockey team would be part of a new co-op arrangement with Wahconah, it might be fair to say he wasn't excited.

"I wasn't too thrilled about it, to be honest," he said.

It didn't take very long for Gian to change his tune.

"The first practice, I came in, [met] a lot of great kids," he said, "and I'm excited about it this year."

There are three co-op hockey teams in Berkshire County. Last year, Taconic hosted Taconic and Pittsfield, Wahconah had the four North Berkshire high schools join in, while Mount Everett is the host school for the South Berkshire schools.

In the off-season, it was determined that Taconic and Pittsfield might not have enough players to field a team, so the co-ops were adjusted. Wahconah became the host for Taconic and Pittsfield, giving the county teams in North, Central and South Berkshire.

When Drury's team took the ice to start the season, there weren't any Wahconah players, but everyone else had been teammates. The case when Wahconah's team skated at the Boys and Girls Club rink wasn't quite the same.

"I was going through a couple of drills. It was hard to get used to the new players, because I don't know how they play," Gian said before a recent practice at Mooney's Pond. "I'm trying my best to get used to it.

"It's been a lot of fun. They're a bunch of great kids and I think we'll all work together and get better."

Thomas Cook played for the Wahconah co-op last year. He said that the good thing is that most of the players were teammates somewhere down the line.

"All of us have really played together at one point or another," he said. "Everybody knew each others' names and basically who each other was. It wasn't that bad."

Jeff Daury is the coach of this new team. Daury, a former Pittsfield High School hockey standout, took over midway through last season for the Taconic co-op. He got used to that team and then all of a sudden, he's got a new team.

"It's exceeded all expectations," Daury said. "It's a tremendous group of kids. I think we have a really great coaching staff to go along with the kids. Certainly, we're not going to be lacking for work ethic out there."

Daury, who once coached at St. Joseph, said this co-op arrangement made a ton of sense logistically. While Wahconah was the host team of its co-op last year, players from Dalton and the hilltowns had to make the trek to the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Rink in North Adams for games and practices. It is a little bit easier to come to Melville Street — even if they have to walk up three flights of steps in their gear to get to the rink.

"It was weird" not to see their previous teammates on the first day of practice, Cook said. "We miss some of our other players and friends on the other team. We're excited to play against them."

The coach called the transition a fairly easy one.

"It was definitely different, for a number of reasons," Daury said. "Everyone's trying to get to know each other. Half the kids, I didn't even know who they were. I just introduced myself and away we go.

"It's been really exciting, because it's been that good of a group — both personality-wise and I think we're a pretty talented club."

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, and 413-496-6253.


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