One week after three Andover (Mass.) High School hockey coaches returned to the bench after being cleared of any wrongdoing in an investigation, the Golden Warriors achieved a historic first for their program by being selected to the prestigious MIAA Division 1A State Championship tournament, colloquially known as the “Super Eight”:
Last month, Golden Warriors head coach Chris Kuchar and two assistants were placed on leave after the state’s Department of Children and Families launched an investigation into “certain coaching methodologies”, reportedly stemming from a complaint the department fielded alleging Warriors players were deprived of food and water following a loss to Western Mass. power Pope Francis.
From its outset, the news of the investigation yielded plenty of public outcry in support of Kuchar. According to the Boston Herald, the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association wrote a letter to Andover Public Schools calling the complaint a “witch hunt”, stating it was “nothing more than a vendetta” against Kuchar and his staff for a player who wasn’t “playing on their top line.”
Kuchar and the two assistants were reinstated on Feb. 16, after both the DCF and school’s own investigations found the claims were unsupported.
“This has been a very difficult time for my family, my team, my coaching staff and the Andover Community. I am thankful for all the support I have received, from players, coaches, parents and many others too numerous to mention,” Kuchar said in a statement at the time, as reported by the Eagle-Tribune.
The “Super Eight” is regarded as one of the nation’s most prestigious state high school hockey tournaments. Given the dominance by private schools overall — last year’s championship won by Arlington High was just the third time a public school has won the Super Eight since its inception in 1991 — for many a public program it is typically an honor to even be named to the field.
The tournament begins Wednesday, with two play-in games.