WEST SALEM, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Ice is ice. It's a constant. At 32 degrees Fahrenheit, water freezes. It doesn't change from Sparta to West Salem. Still, Panther skaters said it's the biggest change about their recent split from a co-op with the Spartans.
Senior Bryce Degno said, "The rink's a little bit smaller. We're getting used to it."
So it's not exactly the surface itself, and in fact West Salem's aging facility was one reason why some did not want to dissolve the co-op with Sparta. That said, a majority of the players on that team were from West Salem, and now they're back home.
"I think all the boys are liking it so far," Degno said. "We grew up here, so we know how everything works here. We're just excited to be back."
Assistant coach Adam Daniels added, "I think we've seen a lot of people [in the community] step up. Really, to have a program of their own makes a big difference."
It hasn't hurt. After going to state last season as a co-op West Salem is off to an 8-0 start, but as with any team there's work to be done.
Daniels said, "We focus on some of the easy fundamentals--just passing and skating. That's been what we've impressed upon them from day one."
"We're still kind of playing as individuals, but we're working on that in practice. Everyone is working hard," said Degno.
At least one thing is taken care of with an independent team: that's the ever important team chemistry.
"We feel for the most part our kids are pretty good friends on and off the ice," said Daniels. "I think that's another attribute of why we're starting out quickly."
And if they can just get used to the new ice, there's no telling how far this team can go.
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