Where one Hamilton brother is, the other isn't far away.
Freddie and Dougie Hamilton are teammates on the Canadian junior hockey team and on the Ontario Hockey League's Niagara IceDogs. They've been inseparable since they were infants.
In the Hamilton photo album, there's a picture of Freddie's pre-school class that shows Dougie standing right beside Freddie, even though Dougie is younger and wasn't even in Freddie's class.
The story of how Dougie got in that picture has different versions. One is Freddie refused to be in the picture unless Dougie was in it.
The other is Dougie saw how miserable Freddie was and jostled his way into the group just before the picture was taken.
“Usually I helped him a long, but I was a little shy when I was a little guy and didn't really like my first school picture and Dougie was there watching the school photo and he had to come in beside me,” Freddie explained.
“He just ran in there smiling away and I was pouting so it's a pretty funny picture right now.”
It's also early photographic evidence of just how close the brothers would be.
Dougie's first OHL fight didn't happen without his older brother's involvement. In the IceDogs' opening game of the 2010-11 season, Dougie was checked hard by Sudbury's Mike Lomas.
Before Dougie could extract retribution, Freddie had taken Lomas on and Dougie ended up fighting another player simultaneously.
“That was pretty funny because we were both fighting at the same time,” Dougie said. “It's pretty special for me to tell that as my first fight too.”
Freddie, 15 months older, has been the protector/mentor of Dougie to the point where parents Lynn and Doug would remind their oldest son there were parents to look after that sort of thing.
“Jumping head first into a snow bank would be something Dougie would do way back when, but not anymore because he's heard it from Freddie,” Lynn said.
“We have had to remind Freddie that there's already a father and a mother and we don't need another one.”
When invitations were issued to the Canadian junior hockey team's selection camp in Calgary, there was some concern in the Hamilton household in St. Catharines, Ont.
Dougie is a first-round draft pick, 10th overall, of the Boston Bruins this year. With no returning defencemen to the Canadian team this year, Dougie was considered to have a better chance at making the Canadian team than his older brother.
Freddie, a fifth-round pick of the San Jose Sharks last year, faced more competition at forward with more returning players and higher draft picks among those invited.
Lynn and Doug came to Calgary for selection camp in the event they would have to console their sons, as both would have been devastated if one did not make the team.
“It would almost been better if both made it or neither,” Lynn said. “Especially if Dougie, the younger one who has always looked up to Freddie and has done things after Freddie, now to have to switch roles and send Freddie home would have been hard to deal with.”
No consolation required as Freddie Hamilton, 19, and Dougie Hamilton, 18, will be first and only other siblings to play for Canada's junior team since Mike and Randy Moller did so 30 years ago. Mike was a 19-year-old forward and Randy an 18-year-old defenceman on the Canadian team that won gold in 1982.
Canada opens the 2012 world junior championship Monday in Edmonton versus Finland.
“Just to make the team as an individual is very exciting,” said Freddie. “To be able to make it with Dougie, that's even better.
It's the best moment of my hockey career so far.”
Added Dougie: “To be able to do it with my brother and have that “F” and 'D” Hamilton on the jersey is pretty special. He's my best friend.”
Dougie, six foot four and 192 pounds, is a mobile skater, a smart passer and has a big shot from the point.
Freddie is eligible for the junior team by just one day as he was born Jan.. The six-foot 190-pound centre was chosen to the team because he's a multi-purpose forward who excels in different roles and can be moved onto different lines.
They're two of the four Niagara IceDogs on the Canadian team along with centre Ryan Strome and goaltender Mark Visentin.
When Dougie and Freddie left the IceDogs to join the Canadian team they were one-two in team scoring – Dougie with 12 goals and 33 assists followed by Freddie with 15 goals and 28 assists.
The brothers take school seriously. Freddie carried a 99 per cent average during the 2008-09 season to win the Ontario Hockey League's high school academic award that season.
Dougie won that award the following season in his rookie year with a 97 per cent average. Dougie was named the Canadian Hockey League's top scholastic player last season with an average of 94 per cent in school.
It's not surprising they're strong student-athletes given how successful their parents were at it. Doug, who has a law degree from Queen's, rowed in the 19 Olympic Games, winning bronze in 1984.
Lynn went to both Bishop's and Concordia universities. As Lynn Polson she played eight years on the Canadian women's basketball team and finished fourth at the 1984 Games.
“The Canada flag has been pretty big in our house,” Dougie said.
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