By Paul Krotz/OHL
Minor hockey is a family affair and it is not uncommon to see siblings compete together at various levels of the game – but the 2012 OHL Cup took things to a whole new level.
In fact, if natural chemistry is what clubs are looking for in the draft, look no further than this year’s group. The Showcase Tournament, which features 20 of the top minor midget teams in Ontario and select United States invites, boasted an incredible three sets of twins along with a set of triplets competing amongst the best players eligible for the Priority Selection.
The Manchurek brothers Joe, Mark, and Robbie, play for the Sun County Panthers and would be a rare find in league history if all three brothers played in the OHL someday, let alone get drafted in April.
“All three of us in the OHL would be great,” said Joe Manchurek, who describes himself as a skilled playmaking forward, while calling brother Mark a power forward and grinder, and Robbie a solid stay at home defenceman. “The chances of moving on together are pretty tough but it would be cool. No matter what happens we will all keep playing hockey.”
While Joe says he often hears him and his brothers referred to as the Sedin twins, ignoring the fact that there are three hockey-playing Manchurek’s, the comparison is far more appropriate for Mitchell and Evan Smith of the Toronto Young Nationals.
The dynamic duo combined for five points playing together in five games and helping the Nats to a Quarter-Final appearance in the OHL Cup, all the while demonstrating the chemistry that comes from growing up alongside your linemate.
“We just have that ability to find each other on the ice,” Evan Smith said. “Obviously we would love to be drafted together, playing in the OHL together would be a dream come true.”
Matthew and Spencer Watson of the London Jr. Knights echo that statement. The pair own season tickets to the OHL’s Knights and have watched Matt and Ryan Rupert succeed together at the next level.
“It’s definitely encouraging to see other players like us,” said Spencer Watson, a forward, who finished the OHL Cup with eight points in five games. “We feel like this is our dream and if we give it our best you just think to yourself why can’t we make it too?”
Unlike the Rupert’s the Watson’s are divided between forward and defence but say that it hasn’t negatively affected their chemistry.
“There’s definitely a connection and I love being on the ice with him,” said Matthew Watson. “When you get the puck you just see your twin better or can hear his voice clearer without even looking.”
The OHL Cup twin conversation wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Hayden and Logan Guitard who actually took different paths to the OHL Cup. Hayden plays with the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs, and Logan competed with the neighbouring Southern Tier Admirals.