Dan McGee to lead Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge girls hockey team

Dan McGee, who was recently hired as the new Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge girls ice hockey coach, at New England Sports Park, which he co-owns, in Lebanon, N.H., on Thursday, June 27, 2024. Hockey “asks a lot of you, physically and mentally,” McGee said, which creates a unique opportunity for team bonding. (Valley News - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Dan McGee, who was recently hired as the new Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge girls ice hockey coach, at New England Sports Park, which he co-owns, in Lebanon, N.H., on Thursday, June 27, 2024. Hockey “asks a lot of you, physically and mentally,” McGee said, which creates a unique opportunity for team bonding. (Valley News - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Alex Driehaus

Dan McGee, who was recently hired as the new Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge girls ice hockey coach, at the CCBA Witherell Recreation Center in Lebanon, N.H., on Thursday, June 27, 2024. McGee will be coaching his daughter, who is a sophomore on the team. (Valley News - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Dan McGee, who was recently hired as the new Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge girls ice hockey coach, at the CCBA Witherell Recreation Center in Lebanon, N.H., on Thursday, June 27, 2024. McGee will be coaching his daughter, who is a sophomore on the team. (Valley News - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Alex Driehaus

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-28-2024 5:31 PM

LEBANON — High school sports coaching changes sometimes involve rebuilds and unfamiliarity between coach and players. Neither should hinder Dan McGee with the Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge girls ice hockey team this winter.

The 50-year-old Lebanon native, a former Raiders player and boys hockey assistant coach, takes over for Mike Sheehan, who guided the program to a 13-7 record last season.

Seventh-seeded LSK exited in the NHIAA playoff quarterfinals with a loss to eventual champion Hanover and is 31-24 the past three years.

Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge won its most games and had its largest roster in recent memory. McGee, the father of rising sophomore defenseman Julia McGee, inherits a team that graduated three impact players and should have three goaltenders from which to choose. Nevertheless, he sees challenges ahead.

“There are only a couple of eligible girls in the seventh and eighth grades, so unless players move here or the co-op changes, that’s problematic,” McGee said. “The numbers are pretty dismal, honestly.”

Hanover and Hartford’s girls ice hockey teams have dealt with the same issue, which plagued LSK in the past. Players taking up the sport as freshmen aren’t uncommon, but finding youth-program products is more difficult. Lebanon’s best player last winter, freshman Biff Maher, announced her intention to play in prep school after the season.

McGee is part of a Lebanon-centered high school hockey booster group formed last year but said clear answers on increasing local participation in an expensive sport haven’t emerged.

“How do we get the numbers up?” he asked rhetorically. “We’re trying to show that there is a community of Lebanon hockey and to provide the best possible experience. Hopefully, kids and families will see that and get involved.”

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McGee graduated from Lebanon in 1992 before attending Maine’s Bates College and building a career with a local technology services company. His son, Will, played hockey for Lebanon and his second child, Gwen, played for Kimball Union Academy.

Dan McGee, who stepped down from his full-time job last year, said not traveling for work allowed him to consider the Lebanon opening. After coaching each of his children’s teams at various stages, he said the girls’ side of the puck was more appealing.

“They just approach being coached differently than boys,” he said. “I assumed there weren’t going to be a lot of applicants and thought I could provide a good experience.”

Managing the expectations of players and parents is an increasing pressure on high school coaches in all sports. McGee said he’ll work to use clear communication to limit potential unrest.

“The fastest way to have problems with parents is to have problems with your team,” McGee said. “These are high school kids, so they’re old enough to have a young adult or full adult conversation with me as a coach. We’ll have 1-on-1 meetings scheduled and if the player has nothing to say, that’s OK.

“Transparency is important, but you’re definitely not going to keep all the parents happy. There’s just no way.”

For now, however, it’s smooth ice ahead.

“You’ve got to have fun because winter sports are a huge time commitment,” McGee said. “You have to feel that you and your team are improving.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.