It’s been a couple years since Caleb Labrie and Matt Poulin have been on the ice together, and at the time, they were sworn enemies.
Caleb Labrie, a 2015 St. Dominic Academy graduate, and Matt Poulin, a 2014 Lewiston High School graduate, will be playing on the same team in 2016-17 as members of the Central Maine Community College men’s hockey team that will play in American Collegiate Hockey Association beginning this year.
The Mustangs’ coaching staff won’t need to separate Labrie and Poulin for what happened during their high school careers: Their rivalry was just on the ice.
“Going through high school, when you put on that Lewiston jersey, there’s a lot of meaning and pride that comes with it,” Poulin said. “When you are out there playing St. Dom’s, on the ice for that 45 minutes, you aren’t friends, you’re rivals, you are battling against each other every chance you can.
“Off the ice, I always have had an immense amount of respect for Caleb. We have been the best of friends for years now. To play on a team with him again, like we did in midgets when we were younger, it’s a honor and privilege of mine to play alongside of him and learn from the experience he gained the last few years.”
Labrie is glad Poulin will be scoring goals for his team now.
“It’s a lot easier; me, Matt, Kyle Lemelin (of Lewiston), Brad (Berube, of St. Dom’s) all had a great rivalry,” Labrie said. “Then Dillon (Pratt, of St. Dom’s), our linemate, we all had a great rivalry. We were all on midget teams growing up, we were always battling for who were the true first line on the teams we were on. It’s a lot nicer to have Matt on my team now instead having him scoring goals in those (Lewiston-St. Dom’s) games.”
In addition to being teammates on the ice, the pair is starting to gel off the ice, in the professional world. Poulin is a loan officer for Mortgage Network in Auburn. Labrie, meanwhile, is getting started in the real estate business.
They are laying the groundwork to form their own company that combines their two career paths, selling house designs.
“It’s a new housing design, something that Caleb’s grandfather has designed,” Poulin said. “It’s been in the papers all over the state; I am sure people will know what we are referring to. It’s an arch-type of home and it’s the strongest type home you are going to find. It’s environmentally friendly, and economically it saves you so much money. So many different areas of life in the 21st century are so important to us. We have these homes now that I just don’t find as advanced as they should be with the technology we have available. That’s something Caleb’s grandfather has tackled and we have tackled as a company.”
Labrie’s grandfather is Thom Labrie, the head of Auburn Enterprises and president at Shelter +7.
In addition to their career aspirations, they are behind the bench together coaching the Maine Gladiators Tier II Bantam hockey team. Poulin is the head coach and brought on Labrie as an assistant this season.
Poulin also has been an assistant coach for Lewiston High School the past two seasons. He coached with or against some his new teammates the past two seasons.
“It’s definitely weird; they joke around and we have a good time in (the locker room),” Poulin said. “They will give me some crap about being the 40-year-old man in the locker room. We have a good time. It certainly has adds some fun with a little humor, because when I come into our CM practices fall after my Gladiators practices — so when I walk in, I am in my coaching gear, they all chuckle. They will be like, ‘What’s going on, Coach.'”
Poulin also said getting back in game shape has been adjustment. Even though he’s been on the ice the past two seasons, he has had to work to return to game shape for the past month while practicing with the Mustangs.
Central Maine coach Kevin Cady said it’s nice to have some coaches on the ice.
“Well, I think I probably have 21 coaches on the ice this season, that’s the way it seems,” Cady said. “That’s a bit facetious, but what I am able to do is not just lean on them, but there are quite a few players that come from a lot experience in hockey, at the junior level and international competition, with Jordy Knoren of the Netherlands. He won a gold medal at the (2012 International Ice Hockey Federation’s Division II World Under-18 Championships). He’s a power-skating instructor, as well. We rely on him for things like that.”
After graduating from St. Dom’s, Labrie continued his playing career with the South Shore Kings, an Under-18 United States Premier Hockey League team based in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Labrie put up some solid numbers, with four goals and seven assists in 21 games. However, an injury from his senior season kept him from playing a full season with the Kings.
“My problem was, in my senior year, I went knee-first into the boards, halfway through my my senior year,” Labrie said. “They thought it was just a high-ankle sprain, and halfway through the season last year, I kept having problems. One night I went to go walk and I couldn’t. I ended up being brought to the hospital and found out I had five broken bones, three tears in my cartilage and two ligament tears in my ankle.”
He had offers to move up from the 18U midget level to play junior hockey this year, but Cady convinced him CMCC could be the right fit for him. Cady coached Labrie on the Portland Jr. Pirates bantam team in 2009.
“I was looking at it, I had a couple of offers from different teams, but I wanted to get back into the schooling,” Labrie said. “I wasn’t really looking to waste a year playing hockey. Playing for CM gives me the best of both worlds. You know, I am not in student debt like a lot of other kids are. Financially, it was a smart move for me; I get to do my real estate career right now and I didn’t have to put much on hold — I still get to play hockey. I still have that door open if I do want to move on to another school. Whatever happens, at least I gave myself a lot of open doors.”
He will be one of the team’s alternate captains this season.
Once Labrie committed, he then recruited Poulin to join as well. Poulin is able to take online courses to fit around his work schedule. Both of them may have to miss a game or two due to their Gladiators commitments.
With all the time they have been spending together they are enjoying each other’s company.
“We are together almost everyday right now, and we really haven’t had any problems,” Labrie said. “The only times we do is when we go against each other in practice. Other than that, we love it.”