Players on successful teams often talk about their positive team chemistry.
There is a close-knit bond between them that helps them maximize their potential. It is like a family atmosphere.
The Old Town-Orono High School hockey team has an unusual number of family ties.
There are three sets of two brothers on the team and there also are two who live together and will become step brothers. Yet another player, junior left wing Zach Needham, has a freshman brother Matthew, who is on the Black Bears’ JV team.
Tyler McCannell, Sam Henderson and Jackson Campbell are seniors. Their brothers Connor McCannell, Adam Henderson and Chase Campbell all are sophomores. Future stepbrothers Aidan Rand and Tyler Kenney are sophomores.
Tyler McCannell is a left winger, while Connor McCannell is a defenseman. Jackson Campbell is a right wing and Chase Campbell plays defense. The Hendersons are centers.
Rand is the team’s starting goalie and Kenney is a defenseman.
“It’s cool,” said Old Town-Orono head coach Chris Thurlow. “It’s pretty unique. Maybe they’re harder on each other than they are with their other teammates. But they all get along great.”
“But it’s special because it backs up what we’re trying to do in having a tight-knit, family atmosphere,” Thurlow said.
Old Town-Orono, the two-time defending Class B North champion, has a 7-3-1 record so far this season and leads the division.
Senior right wing Gabe Talon said the dynamic involving the brothers is notable.
“It’s good to see them interact together,” Talon said. “It’s funny. They’re a big part of our team.”
Junior center Tanner Evans said the brothers always have each other’s backs and Jackson Campbell believes overall team chemistry has benefitted.
“All of our younger brothers played together all the way through travel hockey [like we did],” Jackson Campbell said. “It’s a big advantage. We’re all really tight. It’s a big family here.”
Chase Campbell said having an older brother on the team made his transition to high school hockey much easier.
“He knew most of the team, so I already knew some of the other players [through Jackson] when I got here,” Chase Campbell said.
“It’s pretty nice coming up to the next level and having your older brother leading the way for you. That helped me out,” said Adam Henderson.
Sam Henderson said since he and his brother are forwards, he was able to help his brother learn the systems.
“It is cool to see these sophomores come into their own this year and start contributing to the team,” Sam Henderson said.
None of the brothers play on the same line or are paired on a defense tandem.
The McCannells said since they play different positions, they have gone up against each other throughout the years.
“He’s pretty good, I guess,” Connor McCannell quipped of his brother Tyler, who is Old Town-Orono’s leading scorer with 12 goals and 9 assists. “He has helped me become a better player.”
Tyler McCannell noted that his little brother has improved and is the biggest guy on the team.
“What he lacks in speed he makes up for with his stickwork,” he said.
Connor McCannell took a good-natured jab at his brother when discussing their different styles.
“[Unlike my brother], I put most of my shots on net,” he said.
Rand said he and his future stepbrother Kenney have developed a sixth sense about how each other plays. Hockey is a common topic of discussion at the dinner table and they’re not afraid to offer criticism.
They also stand up for each other.
The players are glad that their parents have the opportunity to watch them play together, rather than having to split up and try to follow them around to different places with separate travel teams.
Thurlow said all of the brothers have been valuable contributors.
Sam Henderson (11 goals, 7 assists) is the No. 2 scorer behind Tyler McCannell and Jackson Campbell has posted four goals and six assists. Adam Henderson has produced four goals and two assists on the third line and Chase Campbell (0 & 4) and Connor McCannell (1 & 2) have been solid on the blue line.
First-year starter Rand has played all but 15 minutes between the pipes and has a 3.59 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage. Tyler Kenney, who is working his way back from a serious knee injury, has played in 10 games.
“It’s kind of neat,” junior center Tanner Evans said. “I’ve never seen anything like it before. They’re always there for each other. It’s nice to see.”
The Black Bears play Kennebec (Watervile-Winslow) at 7 p.m. Saturday in Waterville.