WOONSOCKET – United States Hockey Hall of Famer Bill Belisle’s 44-year run as the head coach of the legendary Mount St. Charles hockey program will come to an end after this season with the Logee Street school reorganizing its hockey program.
Thursday, Mount St. Charles President Alan Tenreiro announced sweeping changes to the school’s iconic program. Matt Plante and Deven Rask will be the program’s co-directors after leading the Selects Academy at the South Kent School in Connecticut, and coach Scott Gainey will take over the day-to-day duties.
Belisle, according to the school’s press release, will move into a coaching emeritus role at the conclusion of the 2018-19 campaign. Belisle’s son, Dave, who handles the day-to-day coaching duties for the school’s Interscholastic League outfit, will be a part of his alma mater “in a role yet to be determined” by Plante and Rask.
“Bill Belisle is a legend and iconic in the school,” Tenreiro said. “We’re certainly honoring his legacy and moving him into this position of coach emeritus, he’ll be able to be on the sidelines and part of practices. He can always be a fixture at the arena and the kids love to see him.”
“Everything is still the same,” said Athletic Director Ray Leveille about Bill and Dave Belisle coaching at Mount and the team’s RIIL entry this coming winter. “Nothing is really changing.”
In his 47 seasons at Mount St. Charles, Bill Belisle has won over 1,000 games to go along with 31 state titles, including a national-record 26 in a row from 1978 until 2004. Mount last won a state title in 2014 and was eliminated in last season’s Division I quarterfinals by Smithfield in three games.
Peter Belisle, who is one of Belisle’s sons and played at Mount, was on the interview committee and the UMass-Boston coach was in some ways instrumental in getting the troika of coaches to leave South Kent to come to Woonsocket.
“The Belisles have been part of this conversation,” Tenreiro said. “They understand that we’re looking to take the program to a level that makes us national bound. They’re excited about it... When you can get a team of people who already have trust in each other and have enjoyed success, that’s why we can hit the ground running,”
Former No. 1 NHL Draft pick and Mountie Bryan Berard, along with former NHL goalie and NBC NHL analyst Brian Boucher, was brought in by Mount earlier this year to shape the future of the program. Berard played for the Belisles, but said this decision needed to be made to reinvigorate the program.
“It’s going to be different, but I think Bill and Dave understand that,” Berard said. “It’s time to make some changes, but it’s all about the kids and developing them and giving them the best opportunity in hockey and in life. It’s a very exciting day, but unfortunately it’s very sad. High school sports, and especially hockey in Rhode Island is going in a different direction, but for us to get these guys, everyone did their homework.”
Plante, Rask and Gainey will be in Woonsocket on Sept. 20 for a press conference to outline how they intend to develop a program in time to start the 2019-20 season. The trio begin their jobs on Aug. 15.
Tenreiro said it’s premature to talk about the design of the program, but he said there will be different levels of teams. The goal until next season starts is to get the word out that Mount is building an elite hockey program.
Plante, Rask and Gainey developed U15, U16 and U18 National teams at South Kent School. The Cardinals put all three teams in the national tournament last season and won the U18 national title. They also won the U16 and U18 USPHL titles.
“We definitely have some challenges, but we want to bring Mount St. Charles to a different level. We’re all looking forward to it,” Berard said.
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