It’s the same ice, but a new jersey for many of western North Dakota’s girls hockey players this year with the inaugural season of Century Patriots hockey. It’s the foundation of a new program, which brings a new opportunity that presents both excitement and pride.

“We want to have the kids have some ownership because it’s a great thing for them to be a part of that they get to be the ambassadors for this program, they get to kind of set the tone,” Patriots’ head coach Tim Meyer said. “You know, regardless of wins and losses it’s really about how we establish ourselves as a program that we create.”

Creating something new begins with establishing a culture. That’s something the veteran players don’t take lightly.

“I take a lot of pride in that,” senior Norah Baerlocher said. “It’s like, I want to make sure that the program is good for many more years to come, and what we start now is what is going to be integrated later on and still be here ten years later.”

“I think it’s a special thing that it’s our job to create the culture that’s going to go on for many years to come, so it’s exciting and I’m excited to get it going and create a new culture for this team,” junior Brenna Curl said.

The leadership role is more important than ever for six returning players who have experience under Head coach Tim Meyer. He is leaning on them to guide 17 brand new athletes on the ice.

“It’s really exciting, because I’ve never been able to step into a role like this, so I get to take charge and lead a new group, and I get to do it with a bunch of new girls that I’ve never met,” Baerlocher said.

At the end of the day, the Patriots still have a goal to push themselves to the top this year.

“I think it’s really important for us to establish ourselves as one of the better teams in the state right off the bat, and I think that’s what we’re trying to do this year,” Curl said.

The puck drops for the first time for the Patriots Tuesday against Minot.