What was previously announced has now been made official.
There will be a second girls hockey team in Bismarck, starting next year.
“We had announced it last year, we confirmed the numbers and we wanted to make sure of the numbers for sustainability,” Bismarck athletic director Dave Zittleman said. “The numbers are at the point where we needed to have two teams.”
Despite the decision having been made last year, Tim Meyer, head coach of the Blizzard over the last decade, said it wasn’t a talking point during the season.
“It was never really a discussion within the team,” Meyer said. “Everyone knew the possibility existed that two teams could come at any time, so as far as the program goes, we were focused on the season and doing things on a day-to-day basis, getting better on a day-to-day basis. basis.
“I didn’t have a single girl come up to me about it last year and we didn’t have conversations about it as a coaching staff. It was definitely on people’s minds, but it was never a topic of discussion for us.”
The two teams will be split between Bismarck’s four high schools. One team will feature players from Century and St. Mary’s, the other from Bismarck High and Legacy.
“Those were the best fits based on numbers and sustainability,” Zittleman said. “We wanted the numbers to be as equal as possible.”
Meyer thinks the split will provide an interesting development for the girls that had previously played all on the same team while they were growing up.
“It’s something everybody should be looking forward to,” Meyer said. “It’s a unique thing to develop a rivalry against kids you’ve played with since you were young, and it’s clearly benefited the boys side, and I think it’ll be an exciting thing for the girls to be a part of.”
While the decision has been made to separate the Blizzard into two teams, and the school split has also been decided upon, not much else has been determined.
Several upcoming meetings that Zittleman will be involved in will determine a variety of topics relating to the new teams.
“We haven’t come up with the team names yet, that’ll be discussed at a meeting in the near future,” Zittleman said. “We’ll allow our student-athletes to make recommendations and we hope to make that decision swiftly.”
Swift decision making is partly necessary because of ordering backlogs caused by the pandemic. Zittleman wants to make sure they have the jerseys and equipment on hand for the new team.
Whether one team will retain the Blizzard name, or whether there will be two fresh names, is among the decisions to be made over the next few months.
Coaching staffs for the new teams are also up in the air.
“We’ll have the openings up for a few weeks,” Zittleman said. “We’ll do our interviews and hope to have a decision on coaches in mid-May.”
While Meyer remains uncertain as to his potential role as a coach for either one of the teams, he does hope to remain as a coach if given the opportunity.
“We haven’t talked about the process yet, but I want to stay involved in coaching as long as possible,” Meyer said. “I’ve been involved in coaching in Bismarck for about 20 years, and giving back to the program that helped me a long time ago, it’s really special.
“I’m hoping to stay involved.”
What has timed out well is the creation of the additional facilities at the VFW Sports Center, which will allow for increased ice time between the variety of teams that utilize the facility, which now include five high school teams and, among others, the Bismarck Bobcats .
The upgraded facilities will include an extra rink, a concession stand, locker rooms and added parking, and is on track to be ready for the 2023-24 season.
“We’ve started the preliminary construction of the new facility,” Zittleman said. “We’re working with Bismarck Parks and Rec to build that one.”
In a similar spirit of Meyer, Zittleman believes that the split will allow for increased opportunity for Bismarck girls hockey players to get on the ice and enjoy the sport they love.
“We have a great tradition with our schools and it’s growing,” Zittleman said. “It gives the girls who play hockey something to look forward to and the opportunity for everybody to play hockey. This is a new opportunity and we hope they’re happy with it.”