MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It was considered one of the best hockey conferences in the state in the 1970’s — but times have changed, and enrollments have declined.

Minneapolis has consolidated the conference into one high school hockey program, representing the entire city.

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“I played with a lot of these kids growing up in the Minneapolis Storm program, and like seeing us all develop and come to one team, even though we all go to different schools around the city is really cool,” Minneapolis forward Garrett Lieb said.

Who better to coach the team than one of the best to come out of the conference — Joe Dziedzic. He earned the title of Mr. Hockey playing for Edison before his time with the Gophers and in the NHL.

He understands the landscape, and the change in the city.

“It’s definitely different from what I’m used to when I was in high school,” Dziedzic said. “We had seven teams, and now we’re down to one, and it’s a unique situation where all the schools combine.”

They have won enough games to bring respectability to the program — and pique the interest of the possibility of what could be.

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“We’re over 500 this year and last year we were under 500, so this year is a lot better for us, and I think we have a chance to go far in sections,” forward Connor Fulco said.

In the process they hope to bring back pride to the once proud hockey community.

“Every time we put on that jersey it makes us feel like we’re really representing the city well, and especially with our success in resent games,” Lieb said.

It’s because the big picture goal is to keep kids who grew up in Minneapolis playing in Minneapolis. If that happens, the landscape is forever changed.

“There’s some good numbers coming up [in the] Minneapolis Storm, and some really good players and I think they’re gonna stay in Minneapolis and not go [to] private school,” Dziedzic said.

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Mike Max