Friday, March 22, 2024

Windham’s Hartwell helps lead CMCC team to championship hockey season

By Matt Pascarella

Windham High 2022 graduate and Central Maine Community College sophomore Aiden Hartwell helped his hockey team win their first Northeast Collegiate Hockey Association (NECHA) Colonial Conference Championship in program history by beating Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 7-1, in Nashua, New Hampshire on Sunday, Feb. 18.

Windham High graduate and Central Maine Community
College sophomore Aiden Hartwell competes in a college 
hockey game against the University of New England at
the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn last fall. He
helped CMCC win their first Northeast Collegiate Hockey
Colonial Conference championship last month.
“Aiden Hartwell is a very good teammate to have,” said CMCC captain and junior Cody Ivey. “Aiden works hard with everything he does and knows what he needs to do to help the team win. It felt awesome to be the first team ever at CMCC to win the NECHA championship. It took a lot of hard work and early 6 a.m. practices ... but the best part about winning the championship is having teammates like Aiden Hartwell. We became family in the process and succeeding in doing what you love with people you love is unbeatable. Aiden never stops going 100 percent. He helps our team by simply outworking the other team. He leads by example being a second-year player.”

Hartwell is majoring in business management at CMCC and would like to someday work in sales.

“It has taken a whole group effort people buying into the system we play,” said Hartwell. “Everyone holding each other accountable has taken months of hard work and dedication. It's a crazy feeling to have because we were the first hockey team to win the championship at CMCC. Especially since it’s only a two-year school we don’t have all four years like other schools we compete against.”

The CMCC Mustangs coach, Jordy Knoren, said this win meant so much it was hard to put into words.

“I believe what has made this team achieve so much is believing in a common goal and knowing the history about our hockey program, and the hurdles and hiccups it had to get through,” said Knoren. “I am very honest with the team from day one and CMCC Hockey is not what it used to be, this team bought in and changed the culture of the program moving forward. They are all true competitors so when you have championships to play for the work ethic increases a notch.”

For Hartwell, his time with the Windham/Westbrook/Bonny Eagle Trail Blazers youth hockey program helped him achieve success on the ice at CMCC. Playing for the Trail Blazers helped him grow as a player and having great coaches from Windham who always pushed him as a player and a person to get better. He said he learned how to be a leader on and off the ice and that when you are out there, you are playing for much more than just yourself.

“Aiden brings humor to the locker room and off the ice as well,” said Knoren. “He competes incredibly hard, but he does it with a smile and he is always there for a conversation or a good laugh. I can honestly say in two years I never had a player or coach not like Aiden. In two years, I have seen Aiden grow tremendously physically and mentally. I hope he continues his hockey career, but more importantly I believe he will succeed in life when he continues to work hard and be himself.”

Once the CMCC hockey team became NECHA champions, they were put into a group with four other teams to play three games and the winner would advance to the semifinal. They played the Air Force Academy and lost by a goal, they then suffered a tough loss to the University of Missouri and tied Michigan State, 2-2.

Although this was not the outcome they wanted, the experience gained will only help them excel in future seasons. Knoren said that he gives the team a lot of credit for putting up a fight against such tough schools. <

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