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Coach Guzzo heads into final section tournament before retirement

North Shore Storm coach Mike Guzzo watches the action during a game against International Falls on Jan. 24. Guzzo plans to retire after more than 30 years coaching hockey. (Jamey Malcomb/News-Chronicle)

For most of the last 30 years, Mike Guzzo has spent his winters — and parts of his summers — coaching and teaching kids the game of hockey.

Guzzo started coaching in Silver Bay in 1987. He spent 23 years as the Silver Bay boys coach, five as the girls coach and the last five as the coach of the North Shore Storm.

This year will be his last, however, as he plans to retire as the Storm coach at the end of the season as well as from his job as Silver Bay's recreation director and as the coach of the Mariner softball team.

He coached the Mariners to the state title in 1999 and has seen the game evolve and change on the North Shore as the Silver Bay team evolved into the Storm — a cooperative team among Two Harbors, Silver Bay and Cook County. When he began coaching, there was only one class of hockey in Minnesota, so small schools like Silver Bay had to compete against the "big boys" from Duluth East and Grand Rapids.

Of course, one of his most memorable wins came against the Greyhounds.

"You can't hide that there were some big wins over the years that were good memories," Guzzo said. "Beating Duluth East here in Silver Bay in 1990 was one of those — that was a big win. In '99, going to the state tournament, and beating I-Falls in the championship game has got to go down as a huge one as well."

There were also some heartbreaking losses, too, including a loss in 2001 to Duluth Marshall to go back to the state tournament and a triple overtime loss to Chisago Lakes as the girls coach in the section finals in 2012.

In fact, Guzzo has coached so long, he's seeing some familiar names pop up on his roster.

"It's kind of unique, kids that I coached back in the early days, I"m coaching their kids now," he said. "I coached Dusty McMillen and Nate Stadler, and now I'm coaching their kids Ryder and Lucas."

Weather hurts Storm

As Guzzo heads into retirement, the Storm have struggled in close games this season.

North Shore (6-14-3) has struggled in close games this season. In nine games where the Storm were tied or behind by one goal in the third period they are just 2-7.

The weather over the past few months has caused a number of games and practices canceled due to snow or ice.

"We haven't quite clicked all year, missing games for weather and cold has been a real killer," Guzzo said. "We miss practices and that takes its toll on you."

The Storm headed into their final regular season game Thursday, Feb. 14, against Eveleth-Gilbert with their tournament position still up in the air, but Guzzo hopes the team can make a run and get to the Section 7A semifinals at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.

"We're going to give it our best shot," he said. "It's good to be the underdog and hopefully, we can make some noise in the playoffs."

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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