Eagle River hockey team puts four sets of brothers on the ice

Thursday, January 26, 2017 - 10:09
  • Eagle River captain Josh Linn, foreground, and brother Austin, background, played together on the Wolves’ varsity squad Saturday, January 21, 2017 at the McDonald Center. (Photo for the Star by Michael Dinneen)
  • From left, brothers Brayden and Logan Rachow suited up for the Wolves’ varsity matchup with Kenai. January 21, 2017 at the McDonald Center. With Brayden’s callup from JV, the brothers played together for the Wolves on Saturday. (Photo for the Star by Michael Dinneen)
  • JV call-up Elias Christian, foreground, smiles after scoring his first varsity goal in a game with Kenai January 21, 2017 at the McDonald Center. Behind Christian is teammate Ian Newman. (Photo for the Star by Michael Dinneen)

As they often do, Eagle River hockey parents Melanie Linn and Debbie Rinckey placed a banner on the McDonald Center glass Saturday prior to the day’s hockey game, then headed to the stands to watch.
What was unusual was that Linn would be watching two sons play for the Wolves varsity that day. With Austin’s call up from JV, Linn would soon watch team captain Josh and younger brother Austin play varsity together.

In what has become an Eagle River tradition, deserving junior varsity players get to play one game at the varsity level. In some cases, this has allowed brothers to play together. In a previous season, Rinckey watched sons Ben and Blake play together.

This year’s game was extra special because for the first time it gave the Wolves four sets of brothers on the squad at the same time.

The game wasn’t close, a 7-0 nonconference win over Kenai Central, and though the win was nice, it wasn’t the point.

“When these boys grow up and they think back on their high school careers, these are the kind of games they’ll remember,” said coach Bill Comer.

“It was fun, this is the first chance I’ve had playing with him in a game,” said Logan Rachow of playing with brother Brayden. Brayden netted his first varsity goal in the first period, and said he thought his first-period strike was just great.

JV call-up Elias Christian, older brother of freshman forward Brooks, scored in the second period after a number of setup attempts.

“It was an awesome goal, this was fun,” he said. “They were trying to get it to me and it became kind of a joke like I couldn’t get a goal, it just couldn’t be done.

Elias, a junior, runs cross-country, so this game was one of only a few games the brothers have ever played together to this point.

Of Elias Christian’s goal, which came after a number of passes from teammates, Comer observed that these are the kind of games that build brotherhood.

“It’s a lot of work on the booster club, we’re switching jerseys around and such, but these kid of games build camaraderie,” Comer said. “When they’re older, and they have families and they are sitting around having beers, they’ll say, ‘remember that time we couldn’t get Austin a goal?’”

With the three JV call-ups, the three sets of brothers joined Cam and Sutton McDonald (both regular varsity players) to give the team a quartet of brotherly duos.

Other call-ups in the game included goalie Chandler Annis, who played well enough to earn a shutout.

With captain Josh Linn’s hopes of moving up and playing in junior hockey next year, watching her sons play together for possibly the final time was a bit melancholy, said Melanie Linn.

“I just hope they realize how special this is.”

CORRECTION: The original version of this story incorrectly stated Ian Newman was a call-up. Newman is on the regular varsity roster. Also, the original version mistakenly said the Rinckey brothers played together last season.

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