Brad and Shawn Bowles spent the past two seasons being a twin terror for Midget AAA goaltenders.
It doesn’t look like Manitoba Junior Hockey League puckstoppers will get off any easier.
The 18-year-old twins from Elkhorn have made the jump to junior with the Portage Terriers this season and have picked up right where they left off in midget as Yellowhead Chiefs.
Shawn, in particular, is off to a flying start to his MJHL career, sitting among league leaders with three goals and 12 points in seven games. Brad has also tallied two goals and six points and both brothers rank among the top three in rookie scoring, with Shawn topping the heap.
Shawn said his start has been more than he hoped for going into the season.
"I wasn’t expecting to be on the first line starting the season, but so far it’s going pretty good," said the left-winger, who has been playing on a line with veterans Brent Wold and Zack Waldvogel. "Hopefully it can keep going that way."
Brad has played both centre and left wing in various line combinations and, like his brother, he said his teammates share a large part of the credit for the strong start, both personally and for the 5-2-0 team.
"I think it’s also who you play with, having good players to play with," Brad said. "Everyone has a role to play and all of us are doing our jobs and playing good hockey right now."
Being on separate lines is nothing new for the brothers, who spent most of last season centring different lines for the Chiefs. They are, however, used to being teammates and spending a lot of time together, so joining the Terriers at the same time and even staying at the same billet home has helped them to maintain their comfort level.
"It helps out a bit, having him there," Brad said. "I guess it kind of makes it little bit more normal. It makes it feel like we’re still at home a bit."
The Bowles brothers actually got their first taste of the MJHL back in the spring, joining Portage for the playoffs after their season with Yellowhead was over. Terriers head coach/general manager Blake Spiller said that experience gave them a leg up this season and believes there is still plenty of room for improvement, particularly as the 6-foot-2, 175-pounders fill out and get stronger.
"They’re big guys that have got some skill and they both work real hard," Spiller said. "We’re definitely happy that they decided to come and play here this year."
"I think that they’ve grown a lot in the last while here, in the last couple years," he continued. "And I think that as they mature, it’s all part of getting older, they’ll get stronger yet. So I think that they’ve both got big upside yet."
Growing up in a hockey family, the twins’ older brother and sisters all played the game, with their brother, Jason, going on to play for the NCAA Division III Manhattanville College Valiants, while one of their sisters, Sherri, competes for the NAIT Ooks in the Alberta college ranks. Their other sister, Candace, is also recognizable to many Westman hockey fans for her between-whistles banter as the Brandon Wheat Kings’ game day hostess.
The youngest of the Bowles siblings, the twins hope to advance to the college ranks themselves and said their family provided advice and inspiration, particularly Jason, who is a former 100-point scorer in the MJHL with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines.
"When we grew up, we always went to every game of his we could and got to see it that way," Shawn said. "It helped us out quite a bit."