Rock Ridge boy’s hockey begins new era hosting first-ever practice

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Two of Minnesota’s oldest high school hockey rivals hit the ice as one on Monday night. The Rock Ridge boy’s hockey team, a co-op with Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl and Eveleth-Gilbert dropped the puck on their first-ever practice beginning a new era of Iron Range hockey.

They’re led by new head coach Ben Johnson, who most recently served as the head boy’s hockey coach at Ely. "It’s been I think 26 years of coaching so I’ve had many years of new seasons," Johnson said. "Definitely the experience helps going into a season and not being nervous."

The first practice with the Wolverines was a full one. "There’s a lot of kids," Virginia senior forward Nick Troutwine explained. "It’s something a lot of us aren’t used to, having this number of kids, and I think it’s going to be good because you’re not automatically on the team. You’ve got try a lot harder now."

At the moment Johnson said the team has seven goalies, with Virigina senior Ian Kangas expected to get the start.

It’s fitting too that the brand new team also gets a brand new facility: the Iron Trail Motors Event Center in Virginia. On top of the new facility the Wolverines added the season is extra exciting as the merger was moved up one year from the original target date in 2022.

"It’s really exciting," Kangas said. "I never thought this day would come. There was a ceremony where we were combining to figure out the name and I was never thinking that I would be playing on this team. It’s just really exciting."

Rock Ridge is set to drop the puck on their inaugural season November 30th at Greenway.