Dec 2, 2008

Two sets of brothers give Liberty hockey a unique twist

by William Armstrong

Rare is having one set of brothers on a team, but it is even more unusual to have two sets of brothers on a team. The Liberty Flames men’s hockey team has that in Eric and Josh Reynolds, and Zac and Mackenzie Bauman.

“It is awesome being able to share (hockey) and it is unique,” Eric Reynolds said. “It is cool that we have always been able to enjoy similar things.”

All four of them grew up in Canada playing hockey at young ages, and both older brothers were a part of the younger brother’s first career collegiate goals.

The Reynolds brothers played together when they were between the ages of 7 and 8 years old and Eric’s final year of high school.

After high school, Josh considered other schools before going to Liberty, while Eric had no other school he wanted to go to. Josh ultimately chose Liberty, because it was great for Eric and he felt he was led to go there.

Josh left the sport for a year and Eric has suffered injuries, each putting their hockey careers in jeopardy.

“Those events happening have always taught me to never take anything for granted,” Eric said.

Uncertainty was a concern at first for the Reynolds brothers, but they have developed a tighter bond as a result.

“At first I was not sure what it would be like, but it has been great for us to grow together,” Eric said.

Early bonding was the key ­— but the next step was tryouts and for Josh to make a good impression on the coaches.

“It was good for me to be at tryouts because getting to tell Josh things helped me become a better hockey player,” Eric said. “It also helped me become a better prayer leader and to learn the nature of leadership.”

Although he has helped his younger brother, Eric enjoys watching Josh mature on his own.

“He has done a lot on his own, but it’s been cool to be a part of his playing here and getting a chance to be on his line,” Eric said.

Apart of being on each other’s line, Eric supplied the primary assist for Josh’s first career Liberty goal, coming at 14:32 of the second period of a 6-2 win against the Oklahoma Sooners earlier in the year.

“My favorite part about the goal was seeing Josh’s face,” Eric said. “I will never forget the excitement I saw in him, and I will never experience anything like that again.”

Besides playing on a team with his brother, Eric has never even been around or really known another team with sets of brothers.
“It is rare and interesting,” Eric said. “I do not think they are brothers at times, and I forget that we have other brothers on the team.”

The Bauman’s have a different story entirely, considering that they have barely spent any time playing on the same team. In fact, they had only played one half of a Canadian Junior Hockey league game for the Elmira Sugar Kings up until Liberty.

Both started playing hockey at the age of five, and their parents thought they would never get to see them play on the same team. The thought of playing on the same team excited both brothers because they had missed out on a previous chance with the Sugar Kings.

“I grew up always wanting to be like Zac and wanting to play on a team with him, so it was really exciting when I found out it could happen,” Mackenzie said.

Mackenzie was unsure about attending college and when he decided to go to Liberty, Zac pushed him to work hard for it.

“I did not know about Liberty before Zac came here, but when I did Zac pushed me hard during the summer to work hard and get better at hockey,” MacKenzie said.

Zac was excited to see Mackenzie make the team and to have the opportunity to play together.

“I have loved having my brother around and it has been really fun,” Zac said. “Having grown up being on different teams, it is finally good to be able to hang out with him.”

Like Eric, Zac was proud to be involved in his younger brother’s first career goal, which came at 4:53 of the third period in the win against Kennesaw State.

“It was awesome seeing Mackenzie shoot and score, getting the puck, and celebrating it with him,” Zac said.

On the other side, Mackenzie’s thoughts were the same, “It was fun to celebrate with Zac, because he was just as excited as I was.”

For Zac, being an older brother means being a leader, and Mackenzie feels Zac embodies that not only to him, but to the whole team.

“If things are not going the right way, I can always go to him. He’s there to be honest and help me get better,” Mackenzie said. “Zac has the best work ethic on the team, and it pushes me to want to work hard and keeps me positive. I think he is a great captain; the best leadership is the captain.”

In being the team captain, Zac has his allegiance to the team, but also is there to mentor and learn from his younger brother.

“I try to learn with everyone and as for mentoring, that goes for the whole team,” Zac said. “On the ice, watching Mackenzie grow and being able to share this experience with him is great, but seeing that he knows me better than anyone, he can help me as well.”

Like the Reynolds, both brothers have never been acquainted with playing with or against other sets of brothers.

While Zac is looking forward to playing the rest of his hockey and graduating, Mackenzie wants to make his mark on the hockey team and do well in school.

Zac commented how it gets to a point where he does not even think about the whole sets of brother topic, but midway Mackenzie chimed in with, “or you are all brothers.”

Eric has assisted on two more of Josh’s goals, one being on the road in the 6-2 win against Stony Brook and the other being at home in the third period of the 7-1 win against Stony Brook. That only leaves one of Josh’s four goals that have not been assisted by Eric.

Although having brothers on the team is unique, the last statement by Mackenzie shows how much the team as a whole has gelled and does not let distractions get in their way.


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