Family affair

A family affair: Brotherhood abounds in West Fargo United women’s hockey team – InForum

WEST FARGO — Sports are sometimes seen as activities that can bring families together.

Children will grow up playing sports because their parents grew up doing the same.

Sports run in families, and that’s certainly the case for the West Fargo United women’s hockey team, which has four sets of siblings on its roster this season.

These siblings are Courtney and Mallory Docktor, Reegan and Morgan Bents, Maren and Payton Hareland, and Zoey and Mia Gervais. All eight started playing hockey at a young age and many of them played on the same youth teams.

“When I was 6, we had older cousins ​​who played hockey and I always thought that was pretty cool,” said Mallory Docktor, a junior defenseman. “So we quit gymnastics and I was like, ‘I’m joining hockey. My dad wasn’t sure at first, but then he encouraged Courtney to (play), and we’ve been playing ever since.”

West Fargo United sisters Mia (9) and Zoey Gervais skate to the rink during the West Fargo Winter Classic at The Lights Rink on Tuesday, December 28, 2021.

David Samson/The Forum

A similar sentiment was shared by the rest of the group.

“We’ve always lived here and my dad grew up playing hockey, and he had hoped for all the boys, but he had girls and kind of hoped that we would love hockey as much as he did,” said Payton Hareland, a senior defender and team captain.

United operates as a cooperative between West Fargo and Sheyenne High Schools. The Hareland and Gervais sisters are Mustangs while the Docktor and Bents sisters are Packers.

It is not the first time that a scenario similar to this has occurred for long-serving United head coach Pat Johnson. He had siblings in previous seasons, but never four in the same year.

“We’ve had it in the past, not quite four pairs, but we’ve had triplets and we’ve had others,” he said. “It just means you have some who are very close and that makes everything a little closer. They communicate a little more sometimes, good or bad like the sisters will, but they still push each other so that also helps.

“I try to think they’re all sisters at the end of the season. They know how to get close and talk to each other and they have someone to lean on when they really need it.”

Morgan Bents, senior striker and team captain, said playing with a sister helps Reegan and herself develop chemistry.

“For me,” Morgan said, “to play on a team with my sister, I feel like it’s a time where we can help each other, like more in the offseason, and talk about how we have to improve. And we’re actually on the same line. We play different positions, so it’s less of a rivalry and more of a way of working with each other because we have the chemistry there.

West Fargo United’s Morgan Bents shoots a backhand shot against Mandan during the West Fargo Winter Classic at The Lights Rink on Tuesday, December 28, 2021.

David Samson/The Forum

Reegan Bents, a freshman forward, added to that.

“I think it’s a privilege to play with (Morgan),” she said. “Especially since I’m a freshman and she’s a senior. Being on the same line is really nice, and it’s nice that we can push each other because it’s like kind of a bond between brothers and sisters, so if she works hard, it’ll push me to be as good as her.”

The Gervais sisters shared many favorite memories on the ice together. Mia, a junior defender, recalled the days when she played on a pond at the weekend, while Zoey, a junior striker, especially loves when the duo connect on goal during games.

“Playing pond hockey,” said Mia Gervais. “I know a few years ago we were always having all our friends over and going out to play pond hockey, and it was always a fun thing to do on the weekends. But my really favorite thing is get out on the ice early before practice and just work on point shots and passing together.”

“Yeah, I like it when we go out on the ice together, especially against rival teams, and score goals between sisters,” added Zoey.

The team as a whole hopes to inspire young girls hoping to enter the sport for the first time.

West Fargo United’s Reegan Bents takes the puck at the halfway line during the match against Mandan during the West Fargo Winter Classic at The Lights Rink on Tuesday, December 28, 2021.

David Samson/The Forum

“It can be tough sometimes,” said second-year forward and alternate captain Courtney Docktor. “But if you keep going and know that everyone is supporting you, like your teammates, your family, everyone, they’ll be there for you and help you improve,”

Maren Hareland, a junior forward, added that the people players meet and the relationships they make along the way are the best things about getting into the sport for the first time.

“You meet a lot of new people, a lot of different people with camps and stuff,” she said. “Playing with the same people, you kind of meet a lot of different people through them because you’re so close to everyone as well.”

Johnson echoed those remarks.

“Bring your sister, bring your friends, bring them all and have fun,” he said. “Plus you bring in a whole bunch of people…that’s kind of how the West Fargo girls team started, it was a group of friends who started it. They all wanted to play together and they didn’t want to play boys, and that was many years ago. But right now, get involved, have fun and you can be on the same team.”

United are 9-6-1 overall before a road tilt with Bismarck at 8 p.m. on Friday, January 28. The team is currently fourth in the North Dakota women’s hockey standings as they aim for another berth at the state tournament.

Payton Hareland and Morgan Bents both commented on how far they think the team can go as the regular season enters the home stretch.

“I would say we’re a lot more consistent than we were last year and we’ve played to our potential for the most part,” Payton Hareland said. “I feel like we’re at a place where we can continue to climb from here and hopefully we can get into that state tournament and eventually win the state title.”

“The rest of the season is going to be hard work and everyone will have to be ready to show up and work hard through all the tough training and all the tough games,” added Morgan Bents. “The rest of the season is important for us because if we want to get there, we have to win to move up the rankings.”

Johnson said to win a state championship, all they needed was the chance to be there.

“We played some very good games and we had a tough game,” he said. “But for the most part, if we can keep developing and improving every day, we have a good chance. We have a chance to be there at the end and that’s what you want. You just want a you want to have the opportunity that in the end you are in the state tournament and you win a few games in the state tournament and hopefully in the end you can be in the last game This is everyone’s goal.

“We have an opportunity that if (the team) come together and play really hard together and do the little things, we have an opportunity.”