Twin Terriers

High-scoring Shawn and Brad Bowles have a bright future ahead after they complete their remarkable final season in the MJHL


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For months after they hoisted the RBC Cup, it looked as if Portage Terriers stars Shawn and Brad Bowles would make a college splash down south.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/03/2016 (2614 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For months after they hoisted the RBC Cup, it looked as if Portage Terriers stars Shawn and Brad Bowles would make a college splash down south.

Instead, as the sun sets on their junior careers, the brothers from Elkhorn are set to boost a Canadian university roster as a deadly package deal.

Truthfully, it’s a lucky break for the CIS. The twins were standouts at the national junior A championship last season, where Brad racked up nine points in six games and was named MVP, top scorer and top forward.

After it was over, they were swarmed by more than a dozen NCAA Division I schools.

But when the duo went to confirm their eligibility in February, they learned their high school math credit didn’t count towards NCAA prerequisites. At 20 years old, and over a year past their graduation, it was too late for them to upgrade the course. It was “an eye-opener,” Brad said Thursday.

“We had lots of schools interested, lots of offers,” Shawn said. “That threw that plan out the window. It was a bit of a shock.” 

On the other hand, it’s a boon for some Canadian school, which could snag a matched pair of weapons. The brothers want to stay together partly for tradition, partly for practical reasons.

“I think it’d just be easier on family,” Shawn said. “Easier for our parents to travel and get to see both of us at the same time.”

Right now, both agreed, they’re in no rush to commit. They’re focused on the playoffs, where the Terriers have a bright road ahead. After rocking through the season 52-6-2, the defending Manitoba Junior Hockey League champion Terriers now have a 3-0 grip on their best-of-seven semifinal series against the Winnipeg Blues.

They could book their return trip to the MJHL final tonight at MTS Iceplex, where game four kicks off at 7 p.m.

It’s a remarkable performance, considering the Terriers turned over almost their entire roster in the off-season. Over the summer, head coach Blake Spiller convinced the Bowles brothers to stay on for their overage year and take a leadership role; they are two of just four players left from the championship team.

Photos by PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS High-scoring forwards Shawn Bowles (right) and Brad Bowles may be difficult to tell apart, but their coach Blake Spiller says they have style differences that make them unique on the ice.

“Nobody really expected us to do as well as we are,” said Brad, who took on the team captaincy this season. “It’s nice, the way it worked out. We’ve had a lot of young guys come in, and they’ve been playing key roles for us. You couldn’t ask for anything more. They’ve all stepped up.”

But what will come after that is over? Whichever school lands them, there will be a learning curve for their future coach — if even just to get them straight. Even now, three years after first bringing them into the fold, Spiller wouldn’t bet the farm on knowing which Bowles was which. They look the same. They talk the same. They carry the same 6-2 frame, though the official MJHL roster lists Shawn as two pounds lighter than Brad’s 189 pounds.

They even tear up the scoreboards at the same pace. While Shawn fractured his ankle in November and a finger later on in the season, he and Brad both finished atop the MJHL rankings with 1.7 points per game. Brad collected 45 goals and 57 assists in 60 games, while Shawn racked up 65 points in his 39 games.

“If they traded hats or changed uniforms or jackets, it might be hard for me to tell ’em apart,” Spiller said, but he does notice some key distinctions.

For instance, look at their play. Although they learned the game together and both roll out with some grit, “they are not the same player,” Spiller said. “Brad is a hard-nosed centre; Shawn plays with a little more edge off the wing. Like a certain pair of other famous hockey twins (Sedins), they feed off each other.”

Then again, even they don’t see themselves as that much different. “For the most part, I’d say we’re pretty close to the same,” Brad said. “Shawn likes to be more of the guy in the corner. We have different roles on the ice, but he likes to get into a little bit more scrums. I try to keep it cool out there.”

Soon, they hope, that interlocking chemistry will propel them into a big CIS career, and hopefully a professional one beyond.

For now, they have one last hurrah with the Terriers, a team they both praise. However far this year’s Terriers can take their post-season campaign, it won’t be easy to let that go.

“It’s definitely going to be tough,” Shawn said. “It’s not going to sink in until that final game for sure. Once you move back to reality, it’s going to be a huge change, realizing that you’re not being able to come back. The organization we have, the coaches, they push you to get better every day. They pretty much make you better people.” 

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Portage Terriers stars Shawn Bowles (right) and Brad Bowles banter in the dressing room prior to practice Thursday.
Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin reports and opines for the Winnipeg Free Press.


Updated on Thursday, March 31, 2016 9:55 PM CDT: fixes headline

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