Jackie Stone is in an unenviable position.
Her two sons, Mike and Mark, are about to go head-to-head in the WHL's Eastern Conference final. The Winnipeg mom has only one rule when it comes to them playing one another: no scrapping.
"If they get in a fight," she said yesterday, "I'm coming over the boards."
Mike's Calgary Hitmen will battle Mark's Brandon Wheat Kings in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series tonight at the Saddledome. Mom will be in attendance, but it will be from a distance.
"The nice part," she said, "is I'll be able to go into Calgary and sit up high and mind my own business."
Unless her two boys fight, of course.
Then she'll be the third man in.
That's unlikely to happen, however. There were no major incidents between Mike, an 18-year-old defenceman, and Mark, a 16-year-old rookie forward, when they were growing up in Westwood. They spent their early years cheering for the Winnipeg Jets, and for the most part they got along wonderfully.
"There was obviously a battle here and there, but there wasn't anything where it came to fists hitting faces, that's for sure," Mark said.
"Just bumps and bruises," added Mike, a third-round draft pick of the Phoenix Coyotes. "We never really hit in the face. We always kept it lower. No face."
The brothers played one another four times during the regular season (Calgary won three of them), and all was quiet on the Stone front when it came to confrontations. The playoffs, however, are a different beast. In fact, Jackie has been privy to battle cries from both teams through her sons, and what she's been hearing has her a little nervous. Cryptically, said she wouldn't reveal what she knows.
Her sons, however, are playing down the matchup, saying they will leave their relationship in the dressing rooms.
"I don't think about it at all," Mike said. "I know he's there. That's all I need to know."
Mark admitted there's a little more on the line than just one team advancing to the WHL final. One of them is going to lose.
"It's kind of a hard thing to take in, but it has to happen," said Mark, who had 39 points in 56 games during his rookie campaign. "I'm a little bit nervous about it right now, but I'm sure after the first minute or two it'll be normal.
"A bit of bragging rights are on the line here for the summer, knowing I'll be spending the whole summer with him. So that could get a little bit heated out there, but I'm hoping nothing too big comes of it."
The Hitmen and Wheat Kings are both 8-0 in the post-season and have had a week off to prepare for their third post-season meeting. Games 3 and 4 will go Tuesday and Wednesday in Brandon.
"Both teams are well-rested and prepared, so it should be a good series," Wheat Kings coach Kelly McCrimmon said.
It will be a good series for everyone but one team and one mom.
"People don't realize how tough it is," Jackie said. "Whoever loses this series, it's going to break your heart when you see that kid come out of the dressing room after the last game."