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Wayzata hockey players form Special Olympics bond

By By David La Vaque, 03/01/18, 12:45PM CST


Trojans' players supported the Osseo-Maple Grove Athletic Association poly hockey teams' gold medal run.

Though unable to reach a third consecutive Class 2A boys’ hockey state tournament, members of Wayzata’s team played a key part in another recent championship.

Sawyer Anderson, Tommy Harrison, Griffin Ness, Alex Sahli and Colin Schmidt formed a relationship with the Oseeo-Maple Grove Athletic Association poly hockey team.

The quintet attended practices where they led drills. They sat on the bench when the Storm played in the recent Special Olympics Minnesota Winter Games, offering tips, encouragement and even fetching water bottles.

The Storm came back from a first-round defeat to win three games and the Division B gold medal. Trojans’ players could not attend the Feb. 17 game at the Breck school in Golden Valley due to conflicts with their playoff schedule. They were in attendance Feb. 18 and Storm head coach Becky Thoreson said their presence energized her team.

The feeling was mutual, said Wayzata coach Pat O’Leary. He cheered from the bench but also quietly watched as athletes on each team bonded through competition and passion for athletic pursuits.

“Some of our guys won a state championship and I think they’ll remember this experience forever, too,” O’Leary said after his team's section final loss to Edina. “Our guys really engaged in it. They took the time to blend with and get to know those kids. They weren’t there to be window dressing.”

Chris Fagerberg, who scored seven goals for the Storm in the tournament, called the experience working with Wayzata players this season “awesome and a lot of fun.”

“I think we helped each other get better,” said Fagerberg, a 2003 Wayzata graduate. “They taught us how to attack 2-on-1 and we taught them to not sit back and let the puck come to you.”

Fagerberg and some of his eight Storm teammates returned the support, cheering on Wayzata in the Section 6 playoffs.

This relationship started with Wayzata inviting the Storm to a varsity hockey game. Afterward, the Trojans treated the Storm to pizza and signed memorabilia in the hospitality suite.

“The partnership has been incredible for both organizations and is now going to be a staple for years to come,” Thoreson said.

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