Four sets of brothers competing for Raiders
When Hastings boys hockey coach Russ Welch began to fill out the roster for this year's team, he started to notice a unique trend.
A lot of the last names were the same.
There were two Flynns - Nate and Matt.
Then there were two Mellicks - Tyler and Zach.
Then there were two Neumans - Alex and Andy.
And, to round it out, there were two Shoens - Logan and Colin.
Four sets of brothers had made the team. Almost one-third of the team's 25-man roster was made up of brothers.
"When I put down their addresses and phone numbers for the roster, that's when it really hit me," Welch said. "All of a sudden, there were four sets of brothers on there. I don't remember it ever happening in Hastings, at least not on any team I've coached in 31 years."
After tryouts, as the guys in the locker room started looking around, they noticed the same thing.
"Everyone was just like, 'Wow,'" Nate Flynn said. "It just worked out that way, I guess."
With two of the sets, one brother is a senior and the other is a sophomore. Nate Flynn is a senior captain and Alex Neuman is a senior. The fact that their younger brothers earned spots on the team has made their senior seasons even more meaningful.
"I've only played with my brother in hockey when we were really young," Alex Neuman said. "It's special. We're best friends. When we're on the ice, we know where each other is. It's special for my family, too - just watching us play together. I feel like it is the same for the other brothers, too."
Tyler Mellick is a senior while Zach is a junior. Logan Shoen is a junior and Colin Shoen is a sophomore.
The unique arrangement has helped this year's team, the players and Welch said.
"The team chemistry in the locker room is as high as it has ever been," Alex Neuman said.
"It's a nice experience," Welch said. "It gives our team more of a family atmosphere, that's for sure."
"(Something like this) is never going to hurt a team," Nate Flynn said. "I know it's a cliché to say a team is like a family, but this actually makes it feel like more of a family."
Plus, the younger players benefit by having reliable mode of transportation to the rink every day.
"It's really good for those guys - their brothers can drive them back and forth," Welch joked.
For a few sets of the brothers, like the Flynns and the Neumans, the opportunity to play on the same team is something they haven't been able to experience in a long time.
"It's the first time we've played together since, like, Mites," Nate Flynn said. "It's kind of nice. It's definitely easier on my parents. Just having him in the same locker room as me, that's kind of cool. I never thought it would happen."
That said, there are times those younger brothers challenge their older brothers, and vice versa.
"I get upset when (Andy) does it," Alex Neuman said with a laugh. "I know he's doing it because he wants me to get better, but I usually don't take orders from him real well.
"When someone does something wrong, we will give each other an earful about it. Sometimes it doesn't go well. We'll argue about it all the way home in the car. That's the way it is with the Mellicks, too. They will chatter about everything. They won't be afraid to go at it."
While that has happened here and there, the benefits have far outweighed the drawbacks, the players said.
"I love it," Alex Neuman said. "I think it's the best thing ever. I wouldn't want to change a thing about it."