Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Keanes really know hockey

Cousins Geordie, Jackson keep family passion alive on AAA Wild

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They are Keane cousins who are Wild about being on the same team for the first time in their amateur hockey careers.

Geordie Keane, 16, and Jackson Keane, 15, are both forwards with the defending champion Winnipeg Wild of the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League. Their dads are brothers -- Geordie's dad is local hockey skills instructor Billy Keane and Jackson's dad is former NHL player and Manitoba Moose captain Mike Keane,

The cousins have played minor hockey in the same Assiniboine Park area association but being one year apart has always put them on teams apart until now.

"It's a lot of fun," said Geordie. "We used to always play street hockey games outside so it's fun to get on the ice and do the same kind of thing. (Jackson) scores a lot more goals than I do and that's a good thing for our team because we've all figured out our roles."

While Geordie has always lived in Winnipeg, Jackson and his family moved back to Winnipeg when he was in Grade 1 after his dad joined the AHL's Moose.

"I remember coming back and seeing these guys (Geordie and his family) at the airport. It's been pretty special to be able to grow up together," Jackson said. "(Geordie) is a hard-working guy, he's a little different player than I am, more physical, and a good leader in the dressing room."

Geordie's dad Billy, who played for the Manitoba Bisons in 1986-89, runs Keane Hockey Programs skills development camps and programs for youth players. Billy and Mike, who won three Stanley Cups in a 16-year NHL career before five years with the Moose, have stayed close over the years. Not surprisingly, their sons are too.

"It's been a lot of fun for the two families and the grandparents to see them on one team in one location," Billy said. "Playing with the Wild is great for these guys. (Head coach) Paul Krueger is an excellent coach and provides real good leadership for the kids."

With the brothers Keane in the stands and sons Keane on the ice, it is a passing of the torch between generations. Billy said he and Mike are good with slurping coffee and slinging barbs between them while they watch their sons.

"One story that's come up is Mike and I only played together in one game, that was with the Winnipeg South Blues when I was 20 and he was 16," said Billy, 49. He and Mike, 45, suited up for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's Blues in a game during the 1983-84 season.

"The Blues called him up for one game in the regular season. He was running around, stirring things up all over the ice, and I was kind of riding his wing a bit making sure nobody was going to jump this little 16-year-old who was getting in everybody's face and hammering guys."

For the cousins Keane, there's no danger of too much togetherness since they go to rival high schools -- Geordie at Oak Park and Jackson at St. Paul's -- and they don't play on the same line with the Wild. They did find themselves killing a penalty together one game and were happy to say they didn't give up a goal.

In Wild practices, they'll battle each other for the puck any chance they get but have yet to fool each other with any moves.

"I don't wait for any moves, I just take the body on him every time," Geordie said, laughing.

"I know what he's going to do. He's going bank the puck and then hit me every time so I just get around him," Jackson shot back.

The Keane cousins are a solid piece of the puzzle for the Wild squad, which is off to 11-1-1 start with 17 new players this season. The only returning players are Paul Soubry, Shawn Pachet and Bradley Reichardt.

"Team unity is something you build towards and typically, when you have such a high turnover in the midget league, it's an important process to make everyone a part of the team concept," said Krueger, who had seven players from last season's team earn roster spots on Western Hockey League teams. "This is one of our highest turnovers in recent memory. In '04-05, I got one guy back." Twitter: @WFPAshleyPrest

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 23, 2012 C9


Updated on Friday, November 23, 2012 at 11:34 AM CST: Removes out-of-date info re: Keanes being on the ice today

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