Every family seems to have their own little nitch that no matter how busy your individual lives seem to be you always seem to meet at this one place participating in this one hobby. For my family the rink seems to be this place of comfort. Growing up in a family of 6, with 6 other cousins involved in the same sport as you in one way or another foresees a great chance of an opportunity to bond as a family. The chances of all three of our cars being parked in the driveway at any given time is slim to none. Our communication at times seems to be slacking, but we somehow always find a way to get everyone where they need to be. The one thing though that we do have engraved in our brains through serious repetition is when one of us is putting on a Manchester sweater. That is a time where no matter what; we all seem to find ourselves under the same roof cheering on family.
This week kicks off the final two games of the regular season and for one of my brother’s its all about skating strides against the family. Mackenzie‘s last two games consist of playing #12 Memorial who is lead by sophomore cousin Brady Bilodeau and #1 Trinity whose brother is a freshman skating for them. They both have long and similar roots of how they first got involved in hockey and share the person who has influenced them the most. “I started playing hockey when I was 4 years old, having played my first Manchester Flames season with my cousin Mitchel Myers under my uncle and current head coach of the Bedford Bulldogs Marty Myers. He shared his passion and taught his philosophies which have made me never lose my love for the game of hockey,” says Brady who hopes to take his skill in a year or two to prep school. Mackenzie similarly says that “Dad’s taught me everything I know about the game. More importantly he taught me how to act on the ice. What makes me stand out the most is that I have never in a game slammed my stick against the boards or have yelled at an official from the bench because i know Dad wouldn’t go to my next game if he watched me do that.” I can attest to that because I know my father and nothing makes him prouder than seeing us succeed off the ice than on.
The overall series between the two seems to be even. Last year Central and Memorial split the season series 1 and 1 with both Mac and Brady scoring 7 goals on the season. This year though Central has the edge beating Memorial in the first contest 8-7. I asked Mackenzie about it and he jokingly states “So far Brady has been quiet about tomorrow’s game, but i only think that’s because we beat Memorial earlier this season. Ill be the one texting him before the game this time.” Brady on the other hand has a little more personal response to this question, “Bragging rights are always at stake, but family has always come first and that respect has always carried over onto the ice. This is a sport that brings us all together. Before the games, there is some competitiveness that goes on, and some friendly comments exchanged. After the games, a handshake and a “good game” are shared and the comments are replaced by a simple smile, worn a little bigger by the victor.”
To call these two men family is an honor. To watch them grow up and become two leaders on two teams’ full of history in hockey for the city of Manchester is another thing. Family is forever and hockey brings us together. Wednesday afternoon might be the last time these two take the ice against each other as rivals. But I promise you that through the many more holidays they will be sharing and the pond hockey to be played this will not be the last time they share the ice together. Until Easter these two captains will be working their way to hopefully play on Manchester’s biggest ice venue, the Verizon Wireless Arena, skating strides as family.
–JFK Weds, Feb 21 2011 @ 4pm Central vs Memorial