O Brother Where Art Thou?
The game of hockey will always be a place for male bonding, but for a select few in the Jasper Hockey League, the game is truly a blood sport.
Four sets of brothers and a brother-sister combination currently play in the JHL. Never mind showering together after the game, once upon a time these siblings shared a bath!
TREVOR AND BRIAN GROTH
The Groth brothers, two key components of the fast and furious Fire and Ice Bonestars, haven’t always played hockey together—Trevor is three years older and as such was always ahead of Brian in minor hockey. However, when they did put on the same jerseys, the chemistry was immediate. For the last 10 years in the JHL, Trevor, a powerful, puck-controlling defenceman, has shown an uncanny ability to pick Brian—the sniper—out of a crowd for a pass.
“It’s kind of a Spidey sense,” Trevor suggested.
It’s a team joke, in fact, that Trevor prefers to pass to his sibling. He denies the favouritism, but doesn’t argue that it’s a common occurrence.
“Instead of passing to Dan Anderson who’s free on the wing I’ll thread the needle to Brian,” he laughed.
JEFF AND BRADY BANGLE
Jeff Bangle is tired these days. Not because he’s out of shape, but because after seven years as the league’s commissioner, he’s getting admin-weary. Maybe one of the reasons for his fatigue is because, as a referee, he’s had to toss his own brother out of a game. Awkward!
“There may have been some spill-over from some off-ice issues,” Jeff laughed.
While the Bangles don’t play on the same hockey team, what they do have in common with the Groths, besides being born and raised in Jasper, is that they run a business together: Northface Pizza.
The Bangle bros’ hockey style is strikingly similar: adjectives such as tenacious, scrappy and dogged come to mind. Brady, a power forward whose head can get as hot as his hands, is no stranger to the penalty box. Jeff, four years Brady’s senior, admitted it runs in the family.
“I think I’ve calmed down these days,” he said. “I’m the one who has to keep my team cooled off now.”
JAKE, ALEX and ROSS DERKSEN
For many years, the Derksen name was synonymous with Jasper hockey. Between brothers Jake (37), Alex (35) and Ross (33), plus their cousin Matthew, their always seemed to be at least one of them at the rink.
This season, however, the Derksen with the most ice time has been Kelly, the brothers’ dad. Jake moved away in 2012 and has since only managed a handful of skates with the Royals; Ross hasn’t dressed for more than a few games with the Bongs this season; and Alex is in Fort McMurray. As such he’s missed most of the Barley Kings’ season. With their skill and power, however, each of their respective teams are eagerly awaiting the return of the Derksens. Jake, who blends Alex’s silky skating with Rosco’s immovability, admitted middle child Alex is the most skilled, but only because he’s had the most time on the ice.
“That’s the only reason he’s ten times the player I am!” he said. Alex wasn’t fazed. “Jake’s right. Practice really does make perfect,” he laughed.
TYLER AND NICK CLOUTHIER
The Clouthier brothers know something about working on their game. For years they’ve been staples at noon hour shinny, Jalopies and any other drop-in opportunities. They were also the guys saucing passes to each other at JPL all last week. The Petwawa, Ontario boys bring that chemistry to the Bongs squad.
“Our dad loves that we’re playing together,” Tyler, who at 30 is four years younger than Nick, says. “He’s always asking about hockey.”
This year they have lots to talk about; the Bongs team is stronger that it has been in years. That’s at least partly due to the camaraderie‚ and the slick toe-drags, of the brothers Clouthier.
“Nick and I feel privileged to play in a league like this on a team like the Bongs,” Tyler said.
ROB AND COLLEEN OLSON
Two years ago, during JHL league action, Royals centre Rob Olson dislocated his wrist during a faceoff. His opponent? His little sister, Colleen, playing for the Bongs.
“The first game she played she stepped over the blue line and wired a slap shot over Mike Lyons’ shoulder,” Rob said, obviously proud. It was a paradigm shift for the JHL; not because slap shots were made legal (they weren’t) but because Colleen represented the first female to play in the JHL (with apologies to goalie Wendy Hall).
“I knew she could compete. She’s highly skilled, moves the puck well and is responsible positionally,” Rob said.
She’s also nine years younger, and, according to her, “a lot faster and better looking.”
At different points there have been other family ties in the JHL. Honorable mentions include the Ferron brothers, Mimi and Stefan, Clayton and Trevor Anderson, the Werbicki brothers, Tuna and Rance, and Bryn and Conor Malcolm. Make sure to let us know if we missed any brotherly love!