MISSOULA - The Bruins are Missoula's junior hockey team made up of players from the ages of 16 to 20 that all share the same goal; getting better and reaching the next level.
The team practices four days a week, with early morning practices on Monday and Tuesday. The players are ready to put in the necessary work at 5:15 a.m., while most people are still sleeping.
Head Coach Cliff Cook started morning practices to meet the needs of all of his players and give them the opportunity to have the rest of the day to either go to school or work.
"A lot of the guys hate em, but I actually like them, because it opens up the whole day for you," said Wyatt Ploot, Bruins defensemen.
Ploot, originally from Kalispell, moved to Missoula so that he could play hockey for the Bruins. He transferred high schools and lives with a family here in the garden city. Ploot has played for the Bruins for the past two years and says he wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
In the hockey world, this really isn't out of the ordinary. Billet or host families play an essential role in taking the players in and providing a family for them while they chase their hockey dreams.
The Bruins have players from 13 different states that have come to Missoula to play, ranging from as far as Alaska and Louisiana.
"Convincing kids to come to Missoula hasn't always been the easiest, but as people know, once you get them here they don't want to leave because it's so beautiful here and the people are so great," said Cook.
The goal for Bruins players is to get them to the next level, whether that's higher in junior hockey or moving on to a college team, the players and coaches are dedicated to doing whatever it takes.
The Bruins next game is Feb. 7 against the Bozeman Icedogs in Bozeman and their next home game will be at Glacier Ice Rink on Feb. 15 against the Butte Cobras.