HELENA – This has been a season to remember for the Helena Bighorns.
Last weekend they swept rival Great Falls out of the playoffs to advance one step closer to hoisting the Fraser Cup next week at the NA3HL Championship in Illinois. A goal that is well within grasp of this experience heavy team.
“I know one thing for sure, we had ten veterans come back this year,” said head coach Bob Richards. “Right off the get go the veterans saw what it was like last year. They wanted it to be better. They knew it was a tough year. They knew that this year, if they wanted it to be a good year, everybody is going to kind of have to come together. Right away they set the tone for that. The younger guys who came in fell in line right away, as far as bought in to what they wanted to do, or what the veterans wanted to do and the way we should act. And I think from there, once that happens, everybody’s kind of getting along and it goes from there.”
“Everyone just clicked right away, I mean, going out on the ice, preforming and doing what we need to do,” said Helena native and Bighorns forward Justin Sullivan. “Sticking to our systems.”
That system is rooted in team unity. Which is harder to accomplish than you might think. But everyone on this team seems to genially like one another, and that’s proving to be the Horn’s biggest asset.
“So far this year I think this team from the first two weeks of the year has been more unified than teams I’ve ran across over the past few years at the end of the year,” continued Richards. “Right away they gelled really quickly so we had good team unity. Lots of the guys are friends, they want to hang out with one another. And more than anything we’ve got a lot of guys who, as talented as they are, they are also good workers. In practice, things like that, they are willing to put in the time Wednesday morning, when we’re doing skills. All that extra stuff off the ice as well has really been showing up for them.”
“We’re just communicating on the ice and off the ice,” said Sullivan. “Working together during practice and knowing what we have to do and click together.”
And whats the point of a championship run if you can have some fun?
“Actually there is a lot of different personalities so it makes it really fun,” said forward Hayden Seitz. “You know, having a lot of different senses of humor on one team helps a lot.
“You got any clean stories you can tell?,” I asked.
“Haha, there’s not too many of those,” laughed Seitz.
If they guys keep playing like they have been, they’ll definitely have one they’ll have one TV appropriate story to share, ending in a championship.
“it would mean the world to us. You know we come out here and work hard every single day,”said Seitz. “And that’s what we’re working for, so that would be a dream come true for us.”
Helena travels to Wyoming to take on the Yellowstone Quake Friday in the first game of their series.