North Shore hockey team hits the iceSteve Wasko opened a UPS package he received on Monday and was relieved to find a box full of North Shore hockey jerseys. They arrived just in the nick of time: the team needed the jerseys for its first scrimmage that evening.
Steve Wasko opened a UPS package he received on Monday and was relieved to find a box full of North Shore hockey jerseys. They arrived just in the nick of time: the team needed the jerseys for its first scrimmage that evening.
The Two Harbors and Silver Bay high school teams joined forces and became the North Shore team this year due to declining team enrollment on both teams, according to information presented at a school board meeting in May. Since that time, the jerseys and colors have been decided, but the mascot is a different story.
“It’s still in the works I guess,” Co-Head Coach Steve Wasko said.
Co-op sports are nothing new for the area. This fall, the swimming and diving team members from both Silver Bay and Two Harbors competed together and the girls’ hockey team is currently a co-op of five different schools. But boys’ hockey has managed to maintain separate teams until this season.
The Silver Bay Mariners and the Two Harbors Agates hockey teams have been rivals for decades. The school board meeting during which the co-op was announced was well-attended and there was no shortage of lively debate about the terms of the merger.
Now that the dust has settled, Wasko (former Two Harbors coach) and Co-Head Coach Shawn Bartlette (former Silver Bay coach) said any potential snags have thus far been averted.
“The kids are getting along real well. They’re just excited,” Bartlette said.
The final merger terms include a 50-50 split for practices and games, meaning half of the events will take place at the Lake County Arena in Two Harbors with the remaining half at the Silver Bay Arena. Students are bussed to the host arena each week.
Bartlett said he’s most excited about having a junior varsity team again. Both teams previously had to drop their B-squad due to dwindling numbers. Now they’ll have enough players for a have a full program.
This gives players a chance to develop “rather than throwing them unprepared into varsity games,” he said.
Wasko said the merger unleashed a competitive streak in some of the boys when they realized there would be more players vying for positions on the team
“Once this was announced, it put pressure on some kids,” he said. Most of the players stepped up to the plate, he said, spending extra time in the weight room during the off season and going above and beyond in their preparations. He said the competition has led to stronger players across the board.
Bartlette said the teams got together before the season began to get to know each other.
“It wasn’t awkward stepping into the locker room the first day of practice,” he said.
The coaches also did some preseason bonding, ironing out a collaborative approach based on their years of coaching experience.
The boys competed in their first scrimmages Monday night. See Steve Gow’s Bayside Chatter for more about the team’s first matchups.
“Unlike the Hatfields and McCoys, we’re coming together to strive to compete in Section 7. It’s a long season. We don’t need to come shooting out of the gate…but we’ll want to be playing our best when it gets to playoff time,” Wasko said.
The first game of the season for the newly combined Two Harbors and Silver Bay hockey team is Monday, Nov. 26.