Exeter High School
The boy’s and girl’s hockey teams at Exeter High School have been among the most successful in the state since their respective inceptions.
The roots of the boys’ program were planted with Exeter Youth Hockey, which was founded in 1961. The team went on to win the NH Bantam championship in 1965-66 and some of those players would join the first high school team in 1967-68. Led by local businessman Jim Houston (Legends Hall of Fame inductee 2015) the push to add ice hockey came to fruition in 1967- 68 when Exeter fielded a club team. The next year, 1968-69, under coach and school principal Burt MacArthur, the team went 9-5 in its first NHIAA season.
Since the 1969-70 season, the program has had only three head coaches. Peter Clark compiled an 81-52-4 record in eight seasons, reaching three straight state semi-finals and the championship game in 1974-75, when it lost to Berlin, 5-3.
A top performer on Clark’s teams was Dana Barbin, who went on to star at UNH and play professionally in Europe, and enjoyed great success later as the coach at Phillips Exeter Academy, and is entering his 35th season this year. He was inducted into the Legends of Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.
Jim Tufts (Legends Hockey Hall of Fame inductee 2012) became head coach at Exeter High School in 1977-78 and held that position through the 2018-19 season, compiling a record of 508-404-29. His teams reached three Division I state semi-finals, ’83, ’87 and ‘94 and won the NHIAA Division I Championship Game in 1982-83, beating Manchester West in the final, 4-0. In that win, the offense was powered by a hat trick from Jay Smith and a shutout from Dan Cuvellier.
The Blue Hawks moved into Division II for the 1994-95 season and played in the semifinals that season as well as ’98 when they lost to Winnacunnet 6 – 4 in the Championship Game. They won back-to-back championships in 2000-01, a 4 – 0 victory over Oyster River High School and 2001-02, a 2 -1 overtime victory over Spaulding High School. They returned to Division I the next season and reached the semi-finals in three of the next five years, ’04,’05 and ‘08. In 2009-10, it reached the championship game, losing to Concord, 1-0 and then were back in the Final 4 in ’16.
Paul DiMarino became the head coach in the 2019-20 season and subsequently 2020-21. Thus far he has compiled a record of 26 – 9 – 2 giving the EHS boy’s an overall record of 624 wins – 470 losses – 35 ties.
Many players have continued on to play at the collegiate level but most notably eight players at the Division I level — Denny Houston (UNH), Barbin (UNH), Ron Levis (UNH), Danny Houston (Northeastern), Kevin Thurston (UNH), Corey Averill (West Point), Chris Thayer (UNH) and Jonathan Higgins (Vermont). Barbin in 1979 and Higgins in 2009 helped their teams reach the NCAA Frozen Four.
The first season for the girls’ team at Exeter was as a club program under the leadership of John LeSage in 2005-06. Two years later the program played its first NHIAA varsity season under coach John LeSage.
Only the second coach in the team’s history, current coach Geoff Taylor took the helm in ’08-09 and has guided the team to three straight state championship games in 2017, ‘18 and ’19, unfortunately losing to Hanover each time.
A few of the more notable players over the years in the girl’s program include:
* Carissa Towlson — the 2018-19 Player of the Year finished her career with 214 goals and 98 assists for 312 points;
* Dakota Markey — finished with 169 career points;
* Ashley Keaveney — was three times a member of the 100-point club and a three-year All-State selection who went on to play at Endicott College;
* Isabelle Day — was a three-time All-State goaltender who went in to play at Johnson & Wales;
* Shauna Vadeboncoeur — was the Player of the Year in 2019-20 as a sophomore after scoring 42 goals and 17 assists for 59 points. She is currently playing at Phillips Exeter Academy and has committed to Brown University.