That same old, brand-new feel

New season brings upon first-time atmosphere for veteran program

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 11, 2013

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — As familiar and routine as this season may be, it’s unlike any that have come before it.

For years, guys from Andover and Lahser high schools have teamed up on the ice to form the Bloomfield Hills Unified hockey team.

In that regard, not much has changed — even though it’s entirely different.

“It’s kind of cool to come into the locker room and just see one varsity jacket on the guys,” Bloomfield Hills High coach Bruce McAlister said with a laugh. “Really, if you think about it, it’s been nothing more than a name change for us. But at the same time, you can see the difference. It’s nice having all the kids come from the same place.”

When Andover and Lahser merged to form Bloomfield Hills High prior to the 2013-14 school year, every other sport went through what the hockey program had always known.

Still, even while the convergence on the ice was nothing new, it’s brought about a fresh take for the guys that went from being Chargers to Black Hawks.

“I think there’s more unity, without a doubt,” junior captain John Artemenko said. “When you’re a unified team, it’s just different than when you’re all from the same school.”

Artemenko went on to boast about the new uniforms, new team name and even “the way the locker room has been repainted.”

The merging of schools also fueled an increase in participation.

McAlister said 50 players took part in tryouts before the season started — the most he’s ever had.

The roster also had a overhaul, with a majority of those on the team last year gone due to graduation.

“There’s a much younger presence around here now,” Artemenko said. “We’re not the oldest or biggest team, but we’re fast and we’re going to work extremely hard.”

The Black Hawks were 1-1 at press time.

“We’re young, but were a much more balanced team than we have been in the past,” McAlister said. “We have three lines that can play and options on defense to work with.”

With a fresh, and first, season up and running, there’s also a sense of pride for the team, which is the first in program history.

“We’re looking forward to the season and the future all being the same name,” Artemenko said.

“We’re not hitting the reset button, but we are starting kind of fresh,” McAlister added. “It’s officially the first year around here, and we want to set the bar high for every team that comes after us.”