With 272 points between them this year, Kyle and Brent Howarth have left their opponents seeing double on more than one occasion this season.
The 20-year-old identical twins were the class of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League in 2006-07, with Kyle’s 141 points (38 goals, 103 assists) slightly ahead of Brent’s 131 (49 goals, 82 assists).
Now they’ll look to wrap up an impressive year, their last of Junior hockey eligibility, with a national championship.
The Howarths are in Prince George this week as members of the Selkirk Steelers, trying to take the RBC Royal Bank Cup back to Manitoba.
"It's going to be fun," Kyle said earlier this week, following the Steelers’ opening game of the tournament. "We've been playing hockey together for pretty much our whole lives. We always know where each other are and we always play well together. I think we're just excited and ready to get out there and work hard and try and win a national championship."
This year’s National Junior A Championship won’t be the first time the two have played in the same national hockey championship, but it will be their first as teammates.
In 2004, Brent’s Kelowna Rockets faced off with Kyle’s Medicine Hat Tigers at the Memorial Cup, the pinnacle of Major Junior hockey in Canada.
In the end it was Brent’s Rockets who celebrated a national championship on home ice – although neither brother saw much ice time at the event.
Kyle never dressed for a game, while Brent was on the ice for only two shifts. He is quick to point out, however, that they were productive shifts.
"I got one shift the first game, one the second game," Brent says. "And we actually had two scoring chances in each of those shifts, our line."
While Brent stuck with Kelowna until last season, averaging 11 goals and 26 points in two seasons after the Memorial Cup win, Kyle became a Western Hockey League nomad, with stops in Prince Albert and Spokane following his time in Medicine Hat.
After being traded once again midway through last season, Kyle decided he had had enough of constantly repacking his suitcase and returned to Selkirk, where he played 37 games in 2003-04.
"I got traded at the deadline and decided I didn't want to move around again," Kyle says. "I'd been getting traded a lot so I just decided to come back (to Selkirk). I was pretty excited when my brother said he was coming back."
Brent joined his brother before this season after realizing he would not play a significant role in the Rockets’ plan for 2006-07.
Together they led the Steelers to a 49-9-4-1 record and finished one-two in the MJHL scoring race, with centreman Jason Frykas coming in fourth (119 points).
"He's been there pretty much all year for us and we just seem to find each other really well," Kyle says of Frykas. "Hopefully it continues on through the RBC."
With the RBC Royal Bank Cup marking the final time the St. Andrews, MB natives will play Junior A hockey, nothing would be sweeter than to cap it off with a national championship.
And to do it on the same team, on the same line, would make it all that much better.
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