Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Double sibling showdown

Two pairs of brothers from MJHL teams face off in big barn

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It was a battle of the brothers at the MTS Centre on Tuesday night but there was no giving in the spirit of the season.

It was all business as the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's Selkirk Steelers and Waywayseecappo Wolverines squared off in the Steelers Christmas Bash featuring two sets of brothers, each with a sibling on the opposite team.

Defenceman Derek Gagnon, 19, and defenceman Lars Meilleur, 19, are members of the Selkirk Steelers while their younger brothers Brett Gagnon, an 18-year-old goaltender, and Jens Meilleur, a 16-year-old forward, are Wolverines players.

Championship

"The only thing I've told him (Derek) is there is no way you're scoring on me, ever. He hasn't yet," said Brett, who last season was a member of the Winnipeg Thrashers and was named the top goaltender at the 2009 Telus Cup national midget hockey championship held in Selkirk.

The Gagnon brothers, though just a year apart, have always played in different leagues.

"We haven't played against each other in competitive hockey before this year and the last time we were on the same team was in 7 and 8s out of Red River Community Centre," Derek said. "We both always knew that we wanted to play junior A hockey and we expected each other to play at this level so we knew there was a good chance that it would happen (opposite teams). It's tough on our parents, they just cheer for both teams, but I'm happy for them, too, because at least now they don't have to pay for hockey anymore."

Brett, who earlier this year was a netminder with the Winnipeg Saints, was in net for a 2-1 shootout win against Derek and the Steelers back in October. Since both brothers were living at home at the time, they rode home together in the same car. But Derek said Brett didn't rub it in.

"I thought he felt bad enough already so I didn't say anything (about the win)," Brett said. "But he did do one really dumb thing (in the game) so I pointed that out to him but that was it."

The Saints released Brett a few weeks ago but Waywayseecappo signed him shortly after, meaning Brett had to move out of the Gagnon family's home in Winnipeg, at least for the remainder of the season.

"It was kind of weird not having him around at first but his room isn't empty. The dog took over and sleeps in his bed now so he (the dog) is happy with that," laughed Derek, referring to the family's Lab cross named Reebok.

The Meilleur brothers, from Marquette, are in the MJHL at the same time for the first time. Lars is in his second year with the Steelers while Jens, in his first season with Waywayseecappo, has an exciting holiday season ahead of him. Jens is among the 11 Manitobans named to Team West for the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Timmins, Ont. Dec. 29, 2009-Jan. 4, 2010.

The Steelers won 11-4 Tuesday.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 23, 2009 C4

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