Dom Amore Sunday Read: Bristol parents seek co-op hockey opportunity; UConn’s Tia Chan on

In Olympic Games


There are 15 hockey players in Bristol in search of a team, and there is a team in Rocky Hill in need of roughly that number of players. This could be the basis of an ideal partnership, it’s just a matter of getting a green light.

That is what a group of parents in Bristol are pushing for this week.

“It’s a small group but you’ve got to give kids the opportunity to play their sport,” said Kristen Hasler, whose sons play hockey in an Avon youth program. “Hockey has meant so much to my boys. It’s a great sport, it teaches them such coordination and skills on the ice, it’s a disciplined sport. With everything these kids put into it, it means the world to these kids.”

Parents began looking for a chance for Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern high students to join up with another school for several years. It was discussed in 2019 and 2020 but when the pandemic hit any traction was lost. Over the summer of ‘22 it became known that Rocky Hill was looking for a partner and, though it was last minute and the Bristol budget was set, the new push began.

“For us this is the last chance,” said Jason Harmon, whose son, Zachary is going into his senior year at Bristol Central. “I’ve been working on this since 2018.”

Hasler’s older son, Peyton, would be a sophomore at Eastern. If it doesn’t happen he would be the only player on his Bantam team who wouldn’t go on to play high school hockey.

Bristol officials have raised a valid concern about the pay-for-play element of such a move. The cost would be $1,400 per student, which is moderate by hockey standards but could create inequities for families who might not be able to afford it. All of the families pushing for it this year are ready to pay, and the arrangement would only be for this academic year. In the future, the Bristol board of ed could consider making room in the budget for the costs, or funds could be raised, Hasler said, to bridge any gaps and assure no youngster is turned away for financial reasons.

Zachary Harmon, a senior at Bristol Central, is hoping for a chance to play high school hockey. His father, Jason, and other parents are pushing for the Board of Ed to  approve entry into a co-op arrangement with Rocky Hill. (Harmon family photo)

“They wanted more time to discuss the pros and cons of it,” said Chris Kuczenski, whose son, Evan, would be a freshman participant. “Since this was a last-minute opportunity for us, it was kind of thrown on their plate last minute and they weren’t necessarily thrilled about having to make a rush decision. We thought they didn’t really listen to us.”

The proposal was originally shot down by the board’s student achievement committee, but when the opportunity presented itself, parents like Hasler, Harmon and Kuczenski got to work, writing letters, using social media. They got a special session of the committee to convene and it voted, 2-1 to send the proposal to the full board, which will meet Wednesday. A vote of yes would make high school hockey a reality for Bristol players, a vote of no probably wouldn’t leave enough time to reconsider in time for this season, which starts in November.

Rocky Hill would provide the rink time at Cromwell and other needs for the co-op program.

“[Bristol] really has to do nothing except say ‘yes,’” Harmon said. “They don’t have to pay anything.”

The parents are hopeful but not optimistic the proposal will pass Wednesday. “Just hopeful,” Hasler said.

I’ll take a seat in the parents’ corner on this. Schools should be about providing as many opportunities as possible, since one can never know where a youngster will find his or her calling, make life-long friends or pick up the needed life skills. This opportunity is on the doorstep for 15 Bristol students, and, Kuczenski says, there are 28 more younger players who would be joining in the next few years.

Hockey is an expensive sport in any event, so any family with a youth player would already have been paying fees for years. By the sport’s standards this would be a more affordable way for the kids to play with a public high school, and the arrangement could be re-evaluated after one year. So I’m hoping Bristol folks find a way to open this door.

“Hockey is a lifestyle, it’s not for everybody,” Kuczenski said. “Kudos to the kids for giving up a lot of their time to play the sport they love. It teaches the kids a lot of sacrifice and commitment to follow their dreams, their goals, their passions. It builds a lot of character.”

Goalkeeper Tia Chan has returned to the UConn women’s hockey team after playing for China in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

“It was surreal,” Chan said of her experience. “It’s hard to describe when people ask me, but everywhere you go around the village there are amazing athletes around you. The speed of the hockey is like, phenomenal, really fast. So, yeah, it was surreal.”

Chan, from Hamilton, Ontario, had a promising freshman season for UConn, going 4-5-1 with a 1.49 goals against average and .947 save percentage in COVID-shortened 2020-21. She played for Team China as a “heritage player,” along with UConn teammate Camryn Wong and Huskies alum Leah Lum. On Feb. 3 Chan started and saved 33 of 36 shots in a 3-1 loss to the Czech Republic. China finished ninth at the Games.

What does she hope to bring back to UConn?

“The professionalism of some of the girls on Team China,” Chan said. “There were girls who surpassed my definition of hard work. What I thought hard work was they were well above that. Every minute of their life was focused on hockey, whether that be nutrition, recovery, 100 percent every rep, every lift, everything.”

The UConn team reached the Hockey East final last season and for a time was ranked in the top 10. “I definitely missed the girls and the culture on the team,” Chan said.

Chan returned with a 3-0 win over RIT on Sept. 23, making 30 saves. Wong scored the first goal of the season for the Huskies.

Windsor High is inducting its latest Athletic Hall of Famers Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. at the Windsor Marriott. The Class of 2022:

Curtis Collette, ‘87, soccer, swimming, lacrosse; Tchad Robinson ‘89, basketball; Andrea Grace ‘99, soccer, basketball; Alesandra Neal ‘01, basketball, track; Johnell Burts ‘04, field hockey, basketball; Justin Wilson ‘08, football, basketball, track; Jamie Wakefield ‘11, soccer, lacrosse; Brian Gillespie, distinguished supporter; Joanne Chasen, coach, cheerleading and track. Team Inductions: 1981 CVC Conference Championship girls track and field team and 1975 CVC Conference champion football team. For tickets and information, visit

* The Orioles hiring of former New Britain High coach Roberto Mercado as their Class A manager can be called an unqualified success. Mercado led the Aberdeen IronBirds to the South Atlantic League championship series, and this week was named winner of the organization’s Cal Ripken Sr. Award for player development. Mercado will spend this week in Baltimore, observing and working with the major league team.

* If the name seemed familiar, Jays pitcher Tim Mayza, who allowed Aaron Judge’s 61st homer, is the brother of former UHart women’s basketball captain Deanna Mayza, who had 1,222 points and 476 assists for the Hawks.

* UConn’s new hockey rink is going to be a neat little gem, state of the art and very intimate, with seating for 2,600. It was determined when plans were approved that based on attendance, this is the right size. UConn will play a Hockey East game, Northeastern, in the first game on Jan. 14, and secured permission from the league to use a smaller arena, so long as the design would allow for a future expansion of 3,500 seats.

* The way the Guardians have lined up their rotation, East Windsor’s Aaron Civale could get the ball for Game 1 if they advance to the Division Series to play the Yankees. Civale came off the injured list in September and threw well, striking out seven in five innings Sept. 25 as Cleveland clinched the AL Central, and turned in another quality start Friday night.

Roger Maris Jr. raised eyebrows this week when he said Aaron Judge should be “revered” as the single-season home run record holder, and he doubled down with a Tweet later on. This is his right, though it’s a bit ironic that he seemed to be calling for an asterisk because in baseball records are more than just numbers. Baseball fans know, and will always know, that Babe Ruth hit his 60 in a 154-game season, when baseball was segregated. Roger Maris hit 61 in the first year of the 162-game schedule, an expansion year. Mark McGwire’s 70, also in an expansion year, and Barry Bonds’ 73 are both tainted by steroids. “Legitimate” records are in the eye of the beholder; it’ll be up to each fan, and future generations to consider the stories behind the numbers and draw their own conclusions.

Dom Amore can be reached at


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