Docksteader brothers build on Flames' foundation of success
December 19, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Adam, Brad, Chad, and Devon Docksteader, mild-mannered, left-handed forwards for Liberty University's ACHA Division I, II, and III men's hockey teams, grew up bonding as brothers and crafting their skills as players through pickup games in their home in Ottawa, Ontario.
"We played a lot of hockey in our unfinished basement," said Chad Docksteader, a junior industrial engineering major and member of the Flames' DIII team. "We set up two nets and played two-on-two all the time, using a tennis ball. It wasn't that physical, but it was definitely competitive. You always wanted to win and to try to one-up your brother."
|Adam Docksteader started the family tradition at Liberty in 2007, graduating in 2011 with 52 goals, 48 assists, and only 28 penalty minutes in four seasons on the Flames' DI team.|
Since Adam graduated off the DI team with a total of 52 goals, 48 assists, and only 28 penalty minutes (including 18G, 19A, 16PM as a senior in 2011), the three younger brothers have been busy building on his legacy at Liberty. They have strived to raise the level of their own games, pick up their teammates, and one-up their DII and DIII opponents, all while juggling demanding academic loads.
"With all my brothers coming in, we get to encourage each other in hockey and in life," said Brad, who was joined by Devon, a freshman, on the DII team. "So it's good."
"It's the first time I've ever played with any of my brothers," added Devon, who is two years younger than Chad, four years younger than Brad, and seven years younger than Adam. "He's just helped me out, made me a better player, and made it easier to get along with the guys because they're all good friends with him."
Had all three brothers still at Liberty wound up on the same DII team this season, they might have formed a triply difficult offensive line for opponents to defend. But there would be no mistaking them for the trio of Hanson brothers made famous by their comical and often violent antics in the 1977 movie "Slapshot."
"They're totally different from that," said Flames DIII coach Tristan Chambers, who has coached Chad for the past three seasons. "They're more of a quiet group of guys, at least Chad is. He's not going to do something stupid. He's in control of his emotions and he's never taking bad penalties."
Chambers said the Docksteaders are positive role models for their teammates, showcasing excellent sportsmanship that reflects their Christian faith.
"It's a great hockey family," he said, noting Chad is the DIII team's third-leading scorer behind seniors Brandon Cockburn and Kyle Burman with 9 goals, 10 assists and only 6 penalty minutes going into Christmas break. "All four guys are talented. They're definitely the type of players you want to see come to Liberty and make an impact on and off the ice. I'm thankful to have them in the program."
Liberty DI Head Coach Kirk Handy, who coached Adam for four years, said the Docksteaders' parents, Randy and Lori, have raised a family that he and his wife, Jannie, would want to emulate.
"You couldn't probably find a better family than the Docksteaders," he said. "All the guys are respected by their teammates and coaches on each of their teams. They're all solid student athletes — solid in the classroom and solid on the ice."
Handy envisions his four sons, all ages 5 and younger, following the Docksteaders' lead in about 15 years. The oldest two, Parker and Preston, are already playing in a Lynchburg youth hockey league while the third, Pryce, has expressed interest in the sport. The youngest, Porter, will celebrate his first birthday on Jan. 17.
The Handy boys will have some pretty big skates to fill, however.
Brad, a first-year graduate student pursuing his M.B.A., played with Adam on the DI team for one semester his sophomore year, and is now returning for his fifth season with the DII team. He ranks as one of Liberty's all-time-leading scorers at any level with 105 goals and 112 assists through four and a half seasons.
He has posted remarkably consistent numbers over his career — ranking second on the team in scoring as a freshman with 14 goals and 18 assists and only 14 penalty minutes, third in scoring as a sophomore (27G, 18A, 18PM), and fourth as a junior (13G, 17A, 10PM). As a senior last year, he led Liberty in scoring (41G, 33A, 14PM) and is again the frontrunner going into the second half of this season (20G, 26A, 6PM).
Brad and Devon (21G, 16A, 10 PM) are almost inseparable on the ice, starting on the first line along with freshman Jordan Barstead, who ranks third behind the sibling duo in scoring with 17 goals and 18 assists and no penalty minutes.
"We've had them playing together for a lot of the year and they know how to find each other," Flames DII Head Coach Chris Lowes said. "They both have a similar sense of where they're going with the puck and where they want it to go."
Lowes said it's obvious the four Docksteaders are brothers, based on their playing styles, positions on the wing, and personalities.
"They all share a similar build and frame and skating style on the ice that's fairly recognizable," he said. "They all have a good offensive ability and goal-scoring touch. They're great team guys in the locker room to go with their talent on the ice."
None of the brothers is overly emotional or physical, as evidenced by their infrequent trips to the penalty box.
"They're all fairly laid back, fairly easy going," Lowes said. "The physical side of the game is not their focus. They really have a nose and ability to find the net and do good things in the offensive zone. They're just very aware. They see the ice very well and are tough to defend one-on-one."
Or four-on-four, for that matter.
Even the youngest brother seems to have his priorities in order, focusing more on his walk off the ice than his slapshot on it.
"Hockey is a big part of our lives but it's just for fun," Devon said. "Faith is what matters, and glorifying God."