Friday, 3 September 2010

What's Wahpeton?

I arrived this evening on my first day of travels to Houston, Texas in the North Dakota town of Wahpeton. Wahpeton exists about 40 miles south of Fargo, North Dakota, and has a fairly impressive zoo for being a smaller city. While Wahpeton doesn't have an NHL team or any sort of minor-pro team, there is a pretty cool hockey story in the bustling town.

The BW Blades - standing for Breckenridge/Wahpeton - are a youth hockey program designed for kids aged four through high school. Breckenridge, Minnesota and Wahpeton, North Dakota are sister cities across the state lines. Together, the two cities share a great little hockey program that helps kids get into the game from their population of 13,000.

While there have yet to be any NHL stars developed from the Breckenridge-Wahpeton area, the fact that they have a solid little program started at the Ella Stern & Harry Stern Arena is encouraging. Some of the greatest players in Canada came from the smallest towns on the prairies, and there's a good chance that Breckenridge-Wahpeton could produce a star one day through the BW Blades.

The Blades high school team had one standout player last season. Adam Wiertzema led the team in goals, assists, and points. While the BW Blades team recorded a 4-15-1 record, it was clear that most of the offence ran through Wiertzema. His 18 goals accounted for 35% of all the goals scored by the Blades last season! The senior player will certainly be missed after having graduated in 2010, but he did make the tryout roster for the USHL's Fargo Force! It appears that he didn't make it past the summer tryout, however.

Junior Ethan Miksche will be the man between the pipes this season, and his 2-4-0 record last year was the better of the two goalies that Breckenridge-Wahpeton employed. However, his 7.16 GAA and .819 save percentage will have to be much better to compete with the larger schools from Grand Forks and Fargo. While the BW Blades have produced at least one capable scoring threat, it appears they need some work developing some first-rate goalies.

There's some news from Wahpeton, North Dakota tonight. Tomorrow, I'll be in Kansas City, and we'll take a look at some "kaycee" hockey news!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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