ROSEVILLE, Minn. — Even though Minnesota is the "State of Hockey," that state is struggling to keep girls interested in skating. As numbers drop, high schools are merging to stay alive.
This year is the second season for the Marauders girls hockey team, which is a co-op of Roseville and Mahtomedi, R-M.
"Last year was a little bit of a challenge just trying to bring together those two different schools," said Kylie Jones, a senior on the R-M hockey team.
They came together to keep both programs from folding.
"Large in part due to low numbers, and we wanted to find a good fit," said Craig Rosenthal, the former Roseville coach, who is now a co-head coach with Meghan Rogers, originally with Mahtomedi.
More schools are leaning on this same survival method including Minneapolis Hockey, which is Roosevelt, Southwest and Washburn. Also Blake Hockey, which absorbed Providence Academy and Minnehaha Academy. Then there is Osseo Park hockey, which is 5 co-oped high schools, including: Osseo, Park Center, Totino-Grace, Maranatha Christian Academy and Legacy Christian Academy.
"It's actually lot easier than we would anticipate. Having two schools come together, you never know what you're going to get, but both sides have great kids and coming together as one has been extremely easy," said Rogers.
These players are hopeful for the season ahead, now that they got the kinks out of their merge year.
"I'm super excited for this season. It's jellying really well from last year, so the second year is going to be good," said Ruby Eskin, a senior on the R-M hockey team.
"We're going to be strong up front with our forwards," said Rosenthal, "A little inexperienced on defense, but they're all willing to learn and get better."
While coaches hope more girls will choose hockey, co-ops keep players who are already here...on the ice.
"I can definitely see other schools doing it. We kind of lead the charge with it and we'll see what's to come," said Rogers.
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