It’s not out of the ordinary to have siblings or twins on the same hockey team.
It’s rare, however, to have two sets of twins on the same squad. And what the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League’s Yellowhead Chiefs have this season is even rarer. The Chiefs boast two sets of twins and all four of them are offensive juggernauts.
Through 31 games at the holiday break, Bradley Bowles, twin brother Shawn Bowles and Taylor Sanheim are 1-2-3 in league scoring, while Taylor’s twin brother, Travis, is no slouch either as the second-highest scoring defenceman with eight goals and 25 points. Bradley leads the league with 46 points, including 16 goals, while Taylor Sanheim (22 goals) and Shawn Bowles (18 goals) are just a point back at 45 apiece.
All four players had high hopes this season for the Chiefs, who are tied for first place in the West Division standings with the Brandon Wheat Kings, although they didn’t expect to have piled up statistics like this.
"After last year I knew we had it in us," said Bradley Bowles. "We’re doing better than we expected. … It feels good to have three people up there. It shows what we have and what we can do."
What makes the feat even more impressive is the three forwards don’t normally play on the same line together. When any of the forwards team up on the same line or with Travis back on the blue-line, they are even more dangerous. The Bowles brothers, who are 17 years old, always seem to know where each other is on the ice when they play together, a product of not only their sibling sixth sense but aided by growing up and playing all their minor hockey together in Elkhorn.
Since the Sanheims, who are also from Elkhorn, are a year younger, the twin duos have played with each other every second year. However, the Sanheim and Bowles brothers have developed a solid relationship with each other on the ice, which has really shown this season.
"It’s not as good (of a connection) as with my brother since we’ve played every single year with each other on every hockey team, but it’s strong for sure," Taylor said.
"We kind of got used to each other and playing together," added Travis, who is playing for Team West this week at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Quebec. "You’d never think there were two sets of twins on the team, so it’s pretty special. For sure it helps out there on the ice because we know where each other are."
While the Bowles and Sanheims are having a fantastic season offensively, they are just four pieces of the puzzle for a successful Yellowhead squad. The four are responsible for less than half of Yellowhead’s 132 goals this season, netting 64 between them.
Chiefs head coach Chad Facey knows they’re valuable to the team, but appreciates how well they work with everyone else on the squad, as the Chiefs looking to post the league’s best record for the first time since 2001-02 when they were 30-8-1-1.
"They’re big factors on our team, there’s no doubt," Facey said. "They need lots of guys around them as well. They have a good nucleus around them."
"All four of them can play with anybody," he continued. "They play well with the whole team and lots of guys around them help them out as well. The nucleus is there with talent to help make other players play at a high level as well."
The Bowles and Sanheim twins don’t expect the second half of the season to be any easier than the first, but they hope they can continue to impress and stay on top of the scoring race and the West Division standings.
"We just have to keep doing what we’re doing in the first half and keep ’er going in the second," Shawn Bowles said. "Keep working hard in practices and getting better."