Posted at: 12/31/2012 9:56 PM
Updated at: 01/01/2013 10:43 PM
By: Laura Kennedy
This season, the Two Harbors and Silver Bay hockey teams merged to become the North Shore Storm.
"Neither team had JV programs, so we thought a combination was the only natural thing to do," said Shawn Bartlette, co-head coach of the North Shore team.
Bartlette and co-head coach Steve Wasko wanted to make the adjustment easy for the players.
"We took a lot of time this summer to get the kids together and talk about what was gonna happen before the season started," Bartlette said. "I think that made everyone a little more comfortable."
"Hockey is really kind of a simple game. When you start trying to make it complicated, that's when you have problems," Wasko said. "Our philosophy is very similar so it's an easy transition."
Former on-ice rivals Austin Wasko and Brock LeBlanc are now co-captains.
"At the beginning it was a little iffy, but we've all been getting along and moving the puck well," Wasko said.
"Everybody seems to be on the same page," LeBlanc said. "The coaches are working together well, the Silver Bay-Two Harbors rivalry has kind of been put aside."
Playing on the North Shore team means a little traveling. They spend have their time playing and practicing at the rink in Two Harbors, and the other half at Rukavina Arena in Silver Bay.
"It's different to have to pack our gear for practice, pack our gear and go down for a game," LeBlanc said. "Normally you just leave it in the locker room all year long. It's a different experience."
But the extra time together has helped the group bond.
"Once the kids get together in the locker room they're so excited to be together, we actually have to remind them they have practice and get them out on the ice," Bartlette said.
And their team chemistry rivals that of some long standing Northland teams.
"This is the first time these guys have really played together, and we're playing against teams who have played together for 10 or 12 years," Wasko said. "For us to get to a point where things are starting to gel now, it's a positive thing."
The Storm think they've laid the groundwork for a strong finish this season.