Knights hoping for double impact

The garage-door contractor had never seen the kind of damage Ryan and Matt Rupert had dished out with their sticks, pucks and crushing bodychecks.

The door was off its hinges and dents and dings were everywhere.

“He had to get his camera out — he’d never seen anything that bad,” their father Ron said Monday.

Now London Knights brass hope the 16-year-old twins can make that kind of impact on their new hockey club.

The Knights announced Monday they had signed to an OHL contract the linemate brothers on the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs minor midget team; Ryan (a centre) chosen earlier this month in the third round of the OHL draft; Matt (left wing) selected in the fourth round.

They also announced the signing of Chris Tierney. a sweet-hands centre from the York Simcoe Express who is determined to earn his first-round draft selection by adding a bit more strength to his speed.

Centre Brett Welychka, who played for the London Junior Knights last season, was also signed to a contract with the Knights.

With an advertising sign for McDoubles as the coincidental backdrop, the Rupert twins echoed their delight at having signed with the same team.

Ryan was plus-85 in 56 games with the Chiefs last season. “That’s what I love to do: score goals,” he said Monday.

Matt’s stats were similar and he said he felt “relief” that he and his brother could be on the same team.

The two are fraternal twins, although they look so alike that even teammates mistake one for the other.

Welychka said the brothers were “always in your face” when the two teams played each other.

These are intense boys, not unlike a couple of brothers a generation before them:

Hall-of-Famers Phil and Tony Esposito so damaged the basement walls of their childhood home with their play that Phil once quipped he had to hide the holes with pictures of Jesus.

More recently, the puck-pocked clothes dryer on which Sydney Crosby first inflicted his shooting skills has passed into legend.

Ron Rupert said a new garage door at their Grand Bend home cost $1,700, There’s also been a cost to replacing the drywall inside the house, where the boys played on rainy days.

But it was clear at Monday’s announcement that parental pride outweighs the cringe factor from all the damage.

Tierney, who is – maybe generously — listed as 160 lbs, said he’s been strength-training at the gym, working particularly hard on his legs. “All the guys (in the OHL) are bigger and stronger” than in midget hockey, he said.

He admires Crosby and Knights alumnus Patrick Kane for their “all-around game.”

Welychka said he likes to pattern his game after Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. A prolific scorer, Welychka played centre most of his career with the Junior Knights, but said he’s committed to cracking the lineup wherever the coaches think he’ll fit. “I don’t care if it’s goalie or not, I’ll play there.”

All four 16-year-olds said the Knights have been their favourite team for years.

And the club has high hopes for the them, Knights general manager Mark Hunter said. “You’re kind of baby-faced (now),” he told them, but said that will change as they build speed and strength: “The quicker you guys turn into men, the quicker we win.”

deb.vanbrenk@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/debatlfpress


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