Longtime Westborough High hockey coach retires


Longtime Westborough High hockey coach retires
Sean Hallice, Chet Hallice, Ed Belbin and David Belbin pose with the plaque after the Westborough hockey team won the CMADA championship. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

WESTBOROUGH – The relationship between Chet Hallice and the Westborough High School ice hockey team goes back three decades, including two tours as head coach and a three-year stint as an assistant.

Last month, while wearing his trademark “scally cap,” Hallice coached his last game behind the Rangers’ bench.

Hallice’s final season as Westborough’s head coach was, perhaps, his most memorable. The team got off to a 3-5 start before going on a sixgame win streak. The Rangers would finish the regular season at 11-9-0, earning a berth in the Division 2 state tournament. The team was eliminated in the round of 32, 1-0, by Plymouth South, but that didn’t take away from a season filled with team and individual highlights.

“We had 14 players score at least one goal,” said Hallice. “Eighteen players had at least one assist. Seven players had at least 10 points, and we had our first 20-goal scorer [Braden Duggan] since 2007.”

These are the types of details Hallice focused on as a coach: individual player development and team accomplishments.

As a team, the Rangers 2022-23 win total included victories over rivals Marlborough and Algonquin Regional High School, as well as a 5-3 win over Nashoba.

Chet Hallice’s career dates back to 1992

Growing up, Hallice played hockey alongside Shrewsbury High School girls’ coach Frank Panarelli. A top goaltender, Hallice played for St. John’s before going on to play Division 1 college hockey for Rochester Institute of Technology. After college, he went into law enforcement, serving 34 years with the Westborough Police Department before retiring as a lieutenant in July 2022.

He started his coaching career at Westborough in 1992 and, almost immediately, he found himself dealing with a major crisis.

“They almost canceled the program in 1993 because participation was down,” Hallice recalled. “My father helped spearhead the efforts to keep it going. I wound up with seven freshmen who had never played before playing for me. They got killed, but we kept the program alive. I tell our players each year we wouldn’t have a team now if it wasn’t for those seven kids.”

Hallice coached 10 seasons before stepping aside in 2001 because he wanted to coach his kids in their youth sports. His sons, Sean and Ryan, grew into outstanding hockey players, while his daughter, Samantha, became an all-star softball player at Shrewsbury High.

Hallice served as an assistant at WHS, under Ed Belbin, from 2007 to 2010 before stepping away a second time. But in 2013, he was asked to come back as head coach, a position he held for the next nine seasons.

It was that first season back, in 2013, that something happened he had hoped would never have to happen — he coached against one of his sons.

“My son, Sean, had been playing juniors, not playing high school, but his senior year he came to me and said he wanted to play for Shrewsbury High,” said Hallice. “So, we play Shrewsbury and he scores a goal. He skates past the bench and says to me something like, ‘How’d you like that?’ and the ref hits him with a misconduct for taunting. I tried to say, ‘No, it’s OK, he’s my son!’”

During his last few years at Westborough, Hallice was proud to have both his sons spend some time on the bench alongside him as assistants. He will also get the chance to coach with his daughter this spring, as he closes out his WHS career coaching the Rangers JV softball team.

Taking a moment to reflect on his career, Hallice said he is especially proud that so many of his former players grew in their love for hockey and continue their involvement with the sport.

“At last count, I think we had 17 former players playing in the men’s leagues,” he said. “If these guys are still playing in the men’s leagues or they are coaching in the youth leagues, then I consider that to be successful.”


Westborough boys hockey tops Algonquin to win CMADA championship

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