ORONO, Maine —- Brothers Canon Pieper and Bo Pieper have played on the same team for virtually their entire careers. But when Canon decided to transfer from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, to the University of Maine following the 2015-16 season, that created an opportunity for them to play against each other for the first time.
And that is exactly what will happen this weekend when the 6-7-1 Black Bears will take on 6-8-2 Quinnipiac at the Frank Perrotti Jr. Arena on Friday and Saturday nights at 7.
“I honestly don’t know what to expect,” said Canon, a senior center. “It’s going to be weird not seeing him on the same bench, I guess.”
“It’s going to be a different experience,” said Bo Pieper, a senior left wing. “I’m excited and he’s pretty excited, too.
“It’s kind of unfortunate that we have final exams coming up and we’re both overloaded with homework,” added Bo.
Their parents, David and Cheleen Pieper, will be flying in from Roseville, Minn., to see their only two children face off against each other.
“They couldn’t miss this one. It’ll be good to see them. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot different for them as well…being neutral,” said Canon.
Canon Piper is a year older than Bo but he wound up playing an extra year of junior hockey so they were both freshmen at Quinnipiac during the 2014-15 season.
They had been teammates on the United States Hockey League’s Chicago Steel in 2011-12 and Indiana Ice in 2012-13 before heading out west to play for the Coquitlam Express in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League in 2013-14.
Bo played in 38 games as a freshman at Quinnipiac, amassing 13 points on three goals and 10 assists, while Canon played in only 12 and had one assist. Quinnipiac made it to the NCAA Tournament, losing to North Dakota in the first round.
The following season, 2015-16, Bo had nine points in 42 games but Canon appeared in just two games and decided to transfer. Quinnipiac played in the NCAA championship game that season, losing to North Dakota again.
They were linemates at most of the stops along the way and both cherish the time they played together.
“It was good while it lasted. I’m very grateful for that,” said Canon.
Canon’s lack of playing time at Quinnipiac led him to Orono, where he sat out last season due to the NCAA transfer rules.
“I needed a fresh start and I’m very grateful and appreciative that I got one here,” said Canon. “It has been good so far this season. I’m getting more comfortable with every game.”
Canon said the most difficult part of the move was leaving his brother, who was also his roommate.
“That was the hardest part but we still keep in touch and we’re still close. It had to happen at some point in life, whether it be in hockey or whatever. I’m grateful for being able to spend this much time with him up to this point. I look at it more as being a glass half-full,” said Canon.
“It was not only hard from a hockey perspective but also from the personal side of it,” said Bo.
Canon Pieper has outscored his brother by a point this season. Canon has two goals and five assists in 12 games while Bo has two goals and four assists in 16 contests.
Bo is proud of his older brother for the success he has had at UMaine so far.
“I know how hard it must have been to transfer and have to sit out a year. He got to practice with the team last year but it’s not the same as playing in games. I’m proud of him for jumping back in it and having the season that he’s having,” said Bo who has registered 23 goals and 30 assists in 136 career games at Quinnipiac.
Canon said they have similar personalities and playing styles.
“He can be a little more feisty than me sometimes but we’re pretty similar overall. We both like to use our skating ability the best we can and we look to make similar plays with the puck. We had the same training growing up and a lot of the same experiences,” said Canon.
Canon said he bears no resentment toward Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold for his lack of playing time.
“It’s not healthy to be bitter. It is what it is,” said Canon. “Everything happens for a reason.”
The brothers said playing against each other won’t serve as additional incentive.
“It will be kind of interesting. There might be some joking around but we started playing hockey together and we know how hard each of us has trained. So no matter if Quinnipiac wins or Maine wins, nothing will change between the two of us,” said Bo.
“You want to win every game, obviously, and you do the best you can regardless of the opponent. It will be like any other game only my senior brother will be across the ice,” said Canon, who will have another year of eligibility after this season.
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