University of Maine freshman defenseman Brice O’Connor patterned his game after his older brother Ian’s.
“I grew up watching him play. I followed in his footsteps in high school and in juniors. I tried to adapt my game to his style. He showed me how to play,” said O’Connor.
He will get a first-hand look at his brother’s game this weekend when the O’Connors square off against each other for the first time in their lives.
Brice O’Connor will be trying to contain his brother and the Providence College Friars when they play a two-game men’s hockey set at Providence’s Schneider Arena.
“It’ll be fun to line up against him,” said Ian O’Connor, a senior left winger on the Friars’ most prolific line. “It’ll be pretty cool. We’ll see how it plays out.”
“I’m pretty excited about it,” said Brice, who is three years younger than his brother and had originally committed to Providence only to de-commit in favor of Maine in April because “it was better for me financially and support-wise.”
They are from a close-knit family. In fact, Brice has a tatoo on his right arm with his two brothers’ initials on it.
A middle brother, Kyle, plays hockey at Division III Johnson and Wales University in Providence.
“That shows what type of relationship we have,” said Ian.
The three brothers work out together during the summer and also hang out together.
But Brice and Ian admitted that they won’t take it easy on each other.
“He told me if I get the chance to run him over, I have to do it because he will do the same to me,” said Brice.
“I’ll be keeping my head up,” said Ian.
“We’ll shake hands before the game and then we’ll come out swinging,” said Brice O’Connor.
The brothers, who are from Londonderry, N.H., talk frequently.
“We call each other after every game. We encourage each other,” said Brice.
Their parents, Bob and Carolyn O’Connor, are looking forward to the game but they are also nervous.
“I told (Bob) that it has just really hit me that they are going to be playing against each other,” said Carolyn O’Connor. “I’ll be very nervous for them. But it’s going to be a great experience for all of us. So many family members are going to be able to see them play.”
“Our mom is going to be a nervous wreck,” said Ian.
“She’ll be saying ‘Be careful. No fighting,” quipped Brice.
“I’m a little nervous,” said the proud father. “I’m particularly nervous for Brice, more so than Ian.
“I’m hoping for a couple of ties,” added Bob O’Connor, who played hockey at Boston College while his brother, Mike, played at UMass Lowell. “It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.”
Bob O’Connor’s wardrobe will definitely be neutral.
“He has a Providence jacket and a Maine shirt and hat,” said Carolyn.
Brice O’Connor isn’t sure what to expect if his brother skates down on him in a one-on-one.
“A lot of times, he’ll move to the middle and then pull the puck wide and burn (you) with his speed,” said Brice. “But he may throw a curve at me.”
Brice O’Connor has played in just three of Maine’s 12 games but injuries to veterans Jeff Dimmen and Will O’Neill have given him his chance to play.
“I’m happy for him,” said Ian. “You never like to see guys get hurt. But their defense corps is deep. Brice is a tough kid and he’s solid defensively. He’ll get his offense going.
Hopefully, not this weekend.”