By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Damaging winds blew through Minnesota and western Wisconsin as we slept Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, toppling trees and power lines. More than 60,000 homes lost electricity across the north and east metro. On Wednesday evening, the National Weather Service confirmed damage from a EF-1 tornado had been found just four miles Forest Lake.

The wind also swept one house in St. Croix Falls right off its foundation, dropping the family inside more than 20 feet away. They survived, but their cat didn’t make it.

As the sun came up, one Twin Cities high school hockey team had an idea to make the day a little brighter for strangers.

It’s one thing to wake up to downed trees and damaged cars and property — it’s another when you’re maybe a single parent or injured. Luckily, there’s a young group in town eager to lend a hand — dozens of them, actually.

On the rink at the Forest Lake sports center, achieving a goal takes teamwork. Off the ice, the same rule applies for these hard working teenagers — before and after practice.

The Forest Lake High School hockey team has been cleaning up storm damage around town. Head coach Jon Loo came up with the idea.

“It’s a team sport, so we got to play for each other, and what better lesson than go help the community out and learn that,” he said.

Coach Loo posted his plan on Facebook, telling people to email him if they needed help.

Melissa Kahoutek, a single mother, learned about it from a neighbor.

“And she said, ‘Melissa, I have good news, you have to take these hockey guys up on their offer,’ and I was like, ‘What’s that?” she said.

The team says they were happy to help, and they couldn’t let her do it alone.

“Yeah, she had so many trees down, fences, everything down,” Forest Lake senior Wyatt Anderson said. “And for us to be able to put a smile on her face is pretty cool.”

Instead, Melissa became part of the team and, in the process, their biggest fan.

“Go Forest Lake hockey boys!” she said.

After her home, the team visited a homeowner with disabilities to clean up his yard. Over the course of the day they helped at least half a dozen homeowners, and that’s after a morning workout and an afternoon practice.

Jeff Wagner