Whether it is sibling rivalry or revelry, BCHL teams will have a pair of Sillingers to deal with this year.
That is Owen and Lukas suiting up for the Penticton Vees. And, from what Vees head coach-general manager Fred Harbinson has seen so far — the apple doesn’t fall far from their retired NHL’er father, Mike Sillinger.
While talking about rookie Lukas Sillinger, Harbinson said “he has the compete that a Sillinger has.” Lukas developed that characteristic while growing up in Regina battling his siblings, Cole and Vees co-captain Owen.
“All the time we would be in the driveway, be downstairs playing mini sticks,” said Owen. “Just competing. We just love the game of hockey.”
Even mom would get in on the action, standing in net when they were young. Hockey sticks were always in hand for the trio of Sillinger boys — from simply firing pucks to one-on-one battles or inviting friends over for good old fashion street hockey wars.
“Just anything to play the game,” said Owen, who sported a grin after saying he would win all the battles.
Lukas confirmed that Owen did win. Those moments growing up are Lukas’ favourite. They pretended to be NHL players. Lukas picked Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.
What about dad?
“No, I don’t think so,” said Lukas. “We like to battle against him. Four guys in the family that like to compete and have fun.”
Now the Sillinger brothers get an opportunity they have never had, playing together. During their minor hockey careers that never worked out since Owen is three years older than Lukas. As they hit the ice in the BCHL, younger brother Cole will hone his skills with the Okanagan Hockey Academy.
“To finally play with each other and practice with each other is a great thing,” said Lukas.
“It’s different. He’s been really good,” said Owen. “He’s a really skilled forward and I think he will fit in nice in the lineup. He will bring some skill into the team. Some hard work and a lot of focus.”
Owen believes his brother will make a good transition from playing midget hockey to the junior A level. He also said it depends on how the team peforms, but there will be an adjustment to the league’s speed, but his smarts and skill will help him.
Owen said Cole has worked well on a line with Cassidy Bowes and Jack Barnes, son of retired NHL’er Stu Barnes. Lukas is familiar with Jack as the two played on the same Brick team in Edmonton when they were seven.
During training camp Harbinson has liked what he sees in Lukas, saying he has very good vision and a good shot.
“You can see that he is a real smart, heady player,” said Harbinson.
There is also the possibility that the Sillingers play on the same line, however that wages on how deep the sibling rivalry is. Harbinson said he will see how they interact, remembering what it was like when the Reilly brothers played for the Vees.
“The two forwards (Ryan and Connor) begged me to have them play together when I recruited them,” he said. “I realized the two of them would tear each other’s head off if they were on the same line. It didn’t last very long. We will see with these two.”