FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Inside the Gateway Ice Center, the Fresno Monsters are getting comfortable with their new normal.
"Not having a fanbase this year was tough, you never felt like you were the home team," said first year head coach Cody Key.
The players went an entire season without the fans at Selland Arena. The junior team took in players from 15 all the way up to 21 to get them ready for college hockey.
The young players were led by the youngest head coach in franchise history. Key, a former Monsters star, took the head role at the age of 23.
"Obviously it's a big step, you got a lot of guys that are only a few years younger than me that are looking up to me to make the right decisions and believe in what I'm telling them," Key said.
About 50% of the team comes to the Valley from other countries.
"Canada, Sweden, Kazakhstan," Key said. "We got them from everywhere right now."
"Back home hockey season is -40 so it was obviously weird showing up to the rink in shorts but other than that hockey is hockey," said Jackson Bauml, a defenseman from Kindersley, Saskatchewan.
Macrae Setoguchi, an attacker from Taber, Alberta added, "It's just interesting we can go golfing and stuff, it's really good for the whole team. You have lots of stuff to do for team bonding."
Right now, that team bonding is showing in their play on the ice with the chance to play for a national championship.
Last week the team clinched the Pacific Division title earning a berth in the USPHL National Championship in Chesapeake, Virginia.
"Some may say once in a lifetime, you never know when you will get back here," Key said.
While the players are happy for last week's success, they're hungry for more.
"This is the big show now, let's hope we can go out there and bring a ring back to Fresno," said Bauml.
Playing in a new league, under a new coach with the chance to make history.
"Not even for our organization but for the city I think it'd be great if we came back with this national championship," Key said.
Good Sports: Fresno Monsters chasing national championship
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