Ethan Tucker never expected to return to the 100 Mile House Wranglers but his little brother Matthew had other ideas.
When Matthew was recruited to the Junior B team this year for his first season, he convinced Ethan to join him on the ice. The young men, from Smithers, are one of two pairs of brothers who had signed on the Wranglers this year.
“He had been hounding me pretty much all year to come play my final season with him because I’m 20 now,” said Ethan, who had played with the Wranglers in 2017-18 until he decided to quit to pursue real estate studies. “He finally got to me right around the trade deadline and now we’re playing together.”
The Tuckers are no strangers working together on the ice. The two have played hockey since they were young, occasionally on the same team when they were both coached by their father Dave. While Ethan said he initially got out of the game three years ago after losing his love of the sport, he was glad he had a chance to play with his brother again.
And though he was the veteran player, Ethan noted that Matthew’s playing style had started to rub off on him, partly because he has often subbed in for his brother this season.
“I’m usually a center but I’ve been playing defence because he’s always injured so I got to fill in for his role,” Ethan said. “I didn’t know that was a part of the deal.”
Wranglers head coach Dale Hladun said he’s known the boys’ father for several years and was happy to add both men to his team. Hladun said he’s had several pairs of brothers on the team in the past and they help foster the sense of family he tries to instill in the Wranglers.
“I think the dynamic is just the veteran brother talking to the rookie brother more than anything,” Hladun said. “When you’re picking a team you’re trying to make them all family anyway. I think it’s good for the kids to have families because Smithers is a long way from here and it’s nice to have family close by.”
Matthew said playing with Ethan has been a great experience.
“I definitely wanted to hang out with him a bit more before we both grow up and doing this was the best way I could think of,” Matthew said.
While the Wranglers didn’t have a great year in terms of winning games, Ethan said he sees a strong club developing for next season. In hindsight, he wishes he hadn’t taken the last three years off.
“The highs definitely outweigh the lows for sure. You kind of forget how fun it can be. Coming back from my long break I’m like ‘why did I ever leave, right?’” said Ethan. “Play ‘em while you can, I say. You only have four years to play, so don’t take three of them off.”