From ‘band of brothers’ to ‘brothers in arms,’ there’s no shortage of clichs when one team boasts four sets of siblings, but it’s just a simple fact of the roster for Bishop Ireton hockey coach Anthony Di Carlo.
Sharing more than the bond of siblings the love of hockey the Tangora, Roach, Chastain and Gerke brothers will hit the ice Friday in a region not known for high school stick-handling. They’ll put aside sibling rivalries for the season; blood is thicker than ice, after all.
The coach put us on the same line, which is awesome, said junior left wing Ben Gerke. I’ll deck the [other] guy and get the puck to [Stephen]. He’s faster and he’ll go and score.
Standing beside his brother after practice at Mount Vernon Recreation Center, 14-year-old Stephen nods in agreement. The pair got started on the ice after growing up watching Capitals games with their father, a die-hard hockey fan.
When Stephen, the younger brother, announced around age four that he wanted to give hockey a try, their father was thrilled and pledged to support his son’s decision. Ben liked what he saw on the rink and donned a pair of skates soon after.
It’s a typical story for the Tangoras, Roachs, Chastains and Gerkes. Dan and Nick Tangora, 18 and 15 respectively, have their father to thank for their abilities on the ice. A Detroit native and Redwings fan, he had them at the rink at an early age. The pair took to the ice like ducks to water.
It’s pretty much the fastest pace sport we knew of when we were little, said Dan, a defenseman. Basically, I have the quickest reaction time, built on my reflexes.
Eighteen-year-old goalie Rob Chastain and his15-year-old brother Will, a defenseman, got their start playing roller hockey in Tennessee as elementary school kids. When their family moved to the Washington area, they ditched the rollerblades for ice skates and fell in love with the sport.
For 15-year-old center Duke Roach, hockey called his name during a free skate session at the recreation center down the street from his home. Watching Caps games gave him and brother Dillon an appreciation for the game, Duke said.
It seemed intricate, he said. It’s fun. I get to mess around with him, but we’ve got each other’s backs.
The same could be said for any of the sets of brothers. When an opponent goes after teammates, the response is quick and merciless. When it’s blood … well, there’s something personal about it.
If someone hits them, then you got to go after him, especially since I actually care about my brother, Dan said, struggling to explain the difference between jumping to the aid of a teammate and defending a brother-turned-teammate.
Revenge against another person is better when it’s [for] someone you can talk to it about afterwards, he said.
Which probably explains why most of the brothers are playing on the same lines. The siblings compliment each other, if not with the intuition of twins, than the understanding of two athletes who have grown up playing with one another.
Pretty much all the brothers make a good team on the ice, Stephen said after the clatter of skates on ice and pucks on the boards died down Monday night.
We know where we’re going to be, said Nick. We talk a lot.
When the Cardinals start their first varsity season since 2006, they’ll harness the bond of brotherhood.
And brothers look out for each other, on or off the ice.
You get their number and you go after them, said Duke, laughing.