MISSOULA, Mont. - A Missoula youth hockey team is heading to the USA Hockey Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina.
It's the Bruin Bantam's second trip to the big competition and the team has worked hard to get there.
NBC Montana caught up with the boys at their last home practice before heading to the tournament to get their thoughts on the competition.
"When I moved here it was really shocking because everyone is really serious about hockey, making it somewhere and wanting to be in the NHL and I am too, it's my dream to be in the NHL," said hockey player Andrew Charman.
Charman tells us he's thrilled to be on a team whose players work so well together and have achieved so much.
"Last year we took 3rd in state," said Charman. "We went to nationals and that was kind of a letdown because there were kids on other teams making fun of us so it's nice to show them we can do this, we're a competitive team and we can win."
It's Dalton Roeser's second year on the team and he says he's excited for another chance to win a national title.
"I think we've got a pretty good chance because we've seen a lot of the teams that are going to nationals this year," said Roeser. "I really think we have a pretty good chance."
We talked to hockey player Zach Jaffe who says he's just proud to have won state. "Winning state was fun and we beat Butte who had an undefeated record so that felt good," said Jaffe.
Bruin Bantam coach Jacob Housman says it's been a tough season for the boys with a number of injuries and setbacks -- that's why he's so proud of the boys for making it so far.
"We're starting to see our kids excelling and getting to the next level," said Housman. "I think playing at the national level is kind of the next step for where Missoula hockey is and that's really exciting to be a part of."
Charman tells us above all he's happy to have the experience of competing at a higher level and that he appreciates the support of his community and coach.
"I'm happy knowing that our coach puts all the time and effort that he can into making sure that we become the best players that we can," said Charman.
The team's first national game is April 3 and then they play again April 4 and 5.
NBC Montana will be in touch with the team and keep you updated on how they do.
- Copyright ©2016 by KECI, KCFW, KTVM. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
- Officials identify man who possibly drowned in Flathead Lake
- Officials identify man killed in officer-involved shooting
- Candidates for Montana house seat spar over public lands
- KECI Man arrested in connection with Missoula bike thefts