Packers, Mustangs boys hockey to play each other for first time
The first time the West Fargo and West Fargo Sheyenne boys hockey teams play each other will be tough on the Packers co-head coaches. Tim Capouch and Troy Miller coached most of Sheyenne's players for years, and now in their first rivalry matchup, the coaches will see those players on the other side of the ice.
The Packers and Mustangs, in their first season after splitting off and starting their own team, are scheduled to play their first ever matchup at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19, at the new West Fargo Sports Arena.
"They play together, and now all of a sudden they're competing against each other," Capouch said. "It'll be difficult. I miss a lot of those players. Troy and I have coached a handful of them at the varsity level, and now we're going to see them wearing a different jersey."
To West Fargo Sheyenne head coach Dave Benson, any rivalry between sports programs needs familiarity, the matchups need to happen frequently, the programs need to be close to each other and those games need to be competitive.
Benson is anticipating a fun rivalry between the Packers and Mustangs for years to come.
"I don't know how many more we can fit in there, but it's going to be a packed house," Benson said. "I think this is going to be an unreal rivalry. There's going to be guys who want to prove themselves on both sides of the ice."
Capouch said his young Packers still have to learn how to play at the speed and strength of varsity hockey and believes they still have room to grow. But he said the point of splitting into two teams was to give more kids chances to play varsity hockey.
"Anytime you get an inner-city matchup in any sport there's going to be some sort of hype," Capouch said. "Everybody is excited and looking forward to it."
The Mustangs have most of the varsity returners from last year, as the Packers have just two players with varsity experience coming back this season. However, Benson said the older Mustangs want to prove they're the best team in town. He said the game will be emotional so he hopes his players will learn to play controlled and disciplined.
"I think it's going to be a hard fought battle. I really do," Benson said. "West Fargo has got some strong younger kids. They're going to want to prove themselves as well. It's going to be a dogfight."
In Sheyenne's first game against Fargo South-Shanley, the West Fargo Sports Arena was seemingly packed. Benson and Capouch anticipate a similar turnout or more people which Benson said will display pride in the programs.
"There's not many events in the community that draw people from both sides," Benson said. "That's the best thing about sports is that it brings a community together. That's exactly what this is going to be doing on Tuesday."
Capouch feels the matchup has been highly anticipated. He said some of his players have played with the Mustangs on youth teams so they're looking forward to competing against each other.
"I think it's great for the city of West Fargo," Capouch said. "I would think the arena is going to be full. There's a lot of anticipation for this game. It'll be a fun night."