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North Shore Storm Hockey Team fills hole for Cook County Youth

Aug 30, 2023 09:29AM ● By Content Editor

Photo: Nico, Credit RCK Images Photography LLC

By Steve Fernlund for Boreal Community Media - August 30, 2023

The North Shore Storm, based in Silver Bay, is a youth hockey program that is a cooperative of sorts with high school hockey programs in Two Harbors and Silver Bay and is under the umbrella of Silver Bay Blue Line Club. 

Registration for the upcoming North Shore Storm Hockey season has opened, and dedicated Grand Marais hockey mom Marcela Perez-Abreu is giving a shout-out to the coaches, players, and families who made last season memorable. Marcela’s son, Nico Tersteeg, skated on the Storm’s Squirt A team. He is moving up to the Pee Wee level this season.

Marcela wants to acknowledge the Cook County high school students who played high school hockey with the Storm. “These athletes do not want the recognition, but they sure deserve it. As do their families and community supporters,” she wrote in an email to Boreal Community Media.

 Rayce. Credit, Jes Rodne

Rayce Gibson of Grand Marais played on the high school team this past season. 

“Rayce was a late bloomer with his hockey career,” said mom Jes Rodne. “At ten years old, he lost his older brother and best friend in a snowmobile accident. In the midst of that, a very dear friend of mine, Leah Carpenter scooped him up and enrolled him in the hockey program, which was centered in Silver Bay.”

Rayce started skating when he was a toddler, but he never played organized hockey. His older brothers, who played hockey when they were younger, often took him to the rink and taught him the game. When he signed up for the Storm, the coaches thought it was crazy for a 10-year-old to start playing hockey. Most kids start the game at three to four years old. 

“Well, that didn’t stop him. At ten years old, he started in PeeWees and ended with a 33-0 season,” Jes said. “We went to state, and at that anticipated game, four hours before their first game…COVID ended it all for them. I’ve never seen so many boys cry.” 

“My son loves hockey, it is his passion, and he is naturally good at it,” Jes said. However, due to the stresses of traveling to Silver Bay and Two Harbors for practices and games, Rayce has decided to end his Storm career. He is a Junior at Cook County High School this fall and is playing football for the Vikings. 

“Sadly, this winter, he will not be on the ice for the Storm,” Jes added. 

Storm Hockey has four levels leading up to the high school level. Mites is the level for kids younger than fourth grade. Squirts are skaters in fourth through sixth grade. PeeWees are in sixth through eighth grade. Bantams are for eighth and ninth graders. 

There are three levels of girls' hockey leading up to girls' varsity at the high school level. Age 10 and under is 10U, 12U is 12 and under, and 15U is 15 and under.

 Evelynn (left) and Francesca Olson

Evelynn Olson was the goalie for the 10U team last season. She will move up to 12U this year. Her sister Francesca is joining the 10U team this year. 

About their hockey experience, mom Krista Olson thinks it’s great. She said, “First-year families don’t pay a fee, and equipment (if needed) is provided to you by the Silver Bay Youth Hockey Association.” 

Krista said for those joining this coming season, “Families can take turns driving to games, so it doesn’t have to be so much driving for one family. We need more girl players.” She added advice for newbies, “Oh, invest in a quality heated vest or jacket!” 

Nick Bjerken, Silver Bay, is President of the Blue Line Club of the North Shore Storm. He is a self-described “stay-at-home dad” who is a coach, team and tournament organizer, and an avid amateur hockey player. 

The annual summer hockey camp put on by the Storm at the Rukavina Arena in Silver Bay occurred in July. Nick said it was a record year with more than 170 kids participating. They came from all over the region, and a half-dozen campers stayed with local families for the week. Camp includes skills and fitness training outside, a couple of hours of classroom work, and some serious ice time. 

The Storm encourages educational achievement for its players through a program they call SKATE--Skaters Keep Achieving Through Education. The program tracks players' grades and holds an end-of-season recognition event that honors skaters with a 3.0 or better GPA throughout the season.

 Credit: The Rink Shrinks

Recognizing that hockey is a family activity, where cost is often an issue, Nick points out that the organization has a collection of used and some new equipment available for kids playing for the first time or who have outgrown the equipment they have. From sticks to helmets and pads, and occasionally skates, he will work with parents and skaters to best equip the player.

As to cost, first-time hockey players will not pay a fee to the Blue Line Club. However, they will pay a fee to join the USA Hockey Association, which, according to its website, provides a foundation for supporting hockey programs in America.

Nick says, “It’s hard to find a better program for the kids for the price.”

Parents/guardians are asked to donate time to help contain costs. Working the concession stands for games and tournaments and handling other volunteer chores earns the family points to help offset costs. If unwilling to commit to that, families may pay an additional fee.

Prospective players and parents can find more information on the North Shore Storm website or call Nick at 651-503-3814.

Nick wrote that the following Cook County skaters participated last season:

  • Evelynn Olson

  • Ryan Christiansen

  • Brody Bronikowski

  • Rayce Gibson

  • Nico Tersteeg

  • Eddy McQuatters Spangle

  • Zach McQuatters Spangle

 Nico's hockey team

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