Bowling Green High School hockey coach Connor Rogowski had a little help building camaraderie on his team from four sets of brothers.
That’s eight players who have been raised with a teammate.
Even though the brothers rarely played on the same youth team, they did play together in the same street hockey game, or on the ice rink built in the Wisniewski family’s backyard, or even by being fans of the game cheering for a professional player or team.
“I think it really helps the team chemistry with all the brothers being together and I’m just real glad that everyone is able to have someone to bounce back on, especially having brothers everywhere,” said senior forward Camden McIntosh, brother to teammate Eli McIntosh. “It gives the team a lot more unity,”
The other three sibling sets are senior Caden Wisniewski and freshman Cash Wisniewski, junior Dempsey Fox and freshman Hayden Fox, and junior Drake Joseph and freshman Hayden Joseph. The Joseph brothers’ cousin, Colby Joseph, is a freshman.
The Wisniewski brothers are both defensemen, the Fox and McIntosh brothers are both forwards, Drake Joseph plays forward and defense, and Hayden Joseph and Colby Joseph are both forwards.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Caden Wisniewski has six goals with 19 assists and brother Cash has one goal and two assists.
The 5-10, 175-pound Camden McIntosh has two goals and three assists, Drake Joseph has four goals and 11 assists and brother Hayden has one goal and four assists.
The respect for big or little brother is obvious, but so is the underlying competition as they jokingly take personal stabs at each other. Caden said Cash has “big shoes to fill,” and Cash said, “he’s the captain.”
Bringing the ‘fight’ to the ice
The 6-foot-1, 160-pound Drake Joseph said getting the chance to play on the same ice with his brother has other rewards — but don’t tell anyone.
“It’s really fun, a great experience, and it’s also fun getting to go at it in practice,” Drake said. “We get to go after each other and not get in trouble by our parents.
“We always grew up on the ice together, going to sticks and pucks (practice). It is pretty fun being able to play on the same team with him now.”
Caden Wisniewski, a three-year varsity player, has been playing since he was 4, and there is a reason for that. His parents, Brian and Andrea, have helped provide the “infrastructure” to play hockey at home.
“We have a rink in our basement and in the wintertime, we build a rink in our backyard and that is cool. We are always pushing each other,” Caden said.
“It freezes if the weather gets cold and sometimes, we play one-on-one. We have another little brother, Cameron, and sometimes we play two-on-one, and it gets heated. We get some other friends coming over and we play 3-on-3 and it’s awesome.”
Caden has received the Bowling Green Youth Hockey Association’s Preston Pahl Scholarship and the BGHS Spyder Award for the most outstanding sophomore. He wants to continue playing junior hockey after high school. This year, he got to celebrate when Cash scored his first varsity goal.
Camden McIntosh has been playing since he was 4 and is a three-year varsity player after playing on all-star and travel teams for BGYHA.
Camden says he has been wanting to play with Eli his entire life, and relishes finally getting the chance. Eli takes the opportunity even more seriously.
“It’s cool,” Eli said. “It feels like I just started, and it feels like I can get out there and fight on the ice with him against all the other people. It helps you understand how to play better, and it also helps me understand how to play with him.”
A coach’s dream come true
Rogowski can see how the brothers influence their teammates by bringing that family competitive spirit with them.
“It helps a lot because they’ve spent their whole childhood together. They’ve hung out together most of the time, they’ve grown up playing sports together, and they’ve just been around each other,” Rogowski said.
“The brothers already have that camaraderie, they already have that energy from the competition between each other, so when they come here, they bring that stuff.
“They really enhance everything that they are doing when there are so many pairs of brothers that are battling against each other all the time.”
Rogowski said it may be why the freshmen are already seeing varsity playing time.
“It could play a factor in it, for sure,” he said. “It’s just like the competition level — them wanting to be there and then having that different sense of ‘I want to play with brother’ kind of thing, ‘I want to defend my family.’
“It might play a factor into their compete-level a little bit more and their want and willingness to get to where they want to be.”
Plus, the younger brothers want to follow the legacy their older brothers will leave behind.
“We have Camden, Caden and Drake who are upperclassmen and they are going to have their brothers coming as a freshmen,” Rogowski said.
“They are leaders and they are showing what a leader is and they are already building and molding those younger players. Inevitably, whether they want to admit it or not, they look up to each other, right?
“The younger guys look up to them, so they are looking up to their brother who is not only on our team as an upperclassman and a leader, they are looking up to that and they are molding themselves to being that kind of person as well.
“I see those characteristics in all of them — from all four of the brothers who are coming up. They want it as much as their older brother does.
“They want to be that good, and they also want to be better, so they are really trying hard in competition and trying to get up to where their siblings are.”
That might be part of the reason why Caden Wisniewski now considers his teammates to be his family, too.
“Bobcat hockey is family,” Caden said. “Enjoy the experience while it lasts. These last few years have gone by very fast.”
Camden McIntosh says “ditto,” that “Bobcat hockey is family,” and encourages his younger teammates to “work hard and enjoy every moment.”