BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - It seems odd to imagine a large city like Bloomington having to combine the hockey teams of its two schools.
But now the Kennedy and Jefferson High School girls hockey teams are one, something that was tough at first.
"I was upset because it was my senior year and I didn't get to go against them," explained former Kennedy player Kalli McCullen. "'Cause I know with Kennedy our biggest goal was to beat them."
Bloomington Jefferson lost players, and Bloomington Kennedy didn't have enough to fill a roster. Kennedy players became Jefferson players; bygones became bygones.
"Before the season we had a meeting with everyone, and we said 'we're one team now, we are not two different teams, so let's start acting like it' which we do," said Alex Brolsma, Jefferson senior forward.
Still when you take two groups of players and make them one, you're combining positions and systems of doing things. So naturally this season began with a period of transition.
"There is that period where you figure out 'where do I fit in?' and it's stressful and it's high school, and we just kind of worked through it," said Jefferson Head Coach Mark Stephan.
Although the schools were rivals many of these players are used to skating together, growing up playing in the same youth leagues. So now being able to stay together at the high school level is a huge competitive advantage.
"This is very positive, keeping the program together that's all we're really doing here is the youth are staying together longer now," said Stephan. "It's just allowing us to have a little more continuity in the program. It also allows me to a little more influence to go down and ask, what are you doing to develop players."