Twinspired performance abroad

Hockey players Jeff and Brendan Kennedy are headed back down south after a pit stop playing hockey in Europe

Brendan Kennedy (left) and twin brother Jeff had the opportunity to play hockey in Sweden before they head to Salmon Arm this September for their first season of Junior A in Salmon Arm. Here they are in front of Caledonia Secondary where they graduated last month.

The combined 12 feet and nearly 400 pounds of Jeff and Brendan Kennedy are headed south to play competitive hockey for the fourth year.

Last month,  they played a tournament in Sweden for their first time overseas.

“Unbelievable.” Brendan used the word to describe the European nation. “Beautiful country. You go for lunch in a building older than Canada.”

Playing in Sweden was a different game than in Canada. “The expectations are so different,” Brendan said. “The style that they play is way more skill-based.”

The Kennedys were playing for Team Canada West in the tournament. Also present was Team Canada East.

“It was part of their development to have us over,” said Jeff.

“It was to show them how Canadians are going to play,” added Brendan. And that, according to the guys, is rougher, harder hockey.

“The Swedish people who came to watch didn’t appreciate the way we played,” said Jeff, with a laugh.

The western Canadian squad came third overall, with two victories over the other Canadians, those games being the roughest of all, they said.

Being twins and being in Sweden, it is only natural for Jeff and Brendan to be compared to the Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Although, unlike the identical Swedish twins, the Kennedys are actually fraternal.

“Not that you could tell,” said Jeff.

They also point out that Brendan plays defense and Jeff forward.

“We’re probably only out there 10 times a game (together),” said Brendan. But despite that, their connection shows on the ice.

“No one in the world spends more time together than Jeff and I do,” Brendan said. “We do have chemistry.”

“We read each other well,” Jeff added.

This September they are headed to Salmon Arm for their first of three years of Junior eligibility.

They were both happy to have been lucky enough to be picked up by the same team each year they’ve travelled, they said.

In fact, they’ve been on the same team since they were four years old. And until grade 10, when they first played down south in Penticton, they always had the same coach: their dad, Kevin. Younger siblings Grace, 14, and Greg, 11, are also hockey players in Terrace.

Living away from home for several months of the year isn’t easy, but it comes with the territory.

“It’s a tough thing to have to do, at the same time you have to embrace it,” Jeff said. “Take everything day by day.”

“We don’t have Junior A, here,” Brendan said. “If you want to play at a higher level you have to go somewhere else.”

School is not made easy for teenagers that play hockey as often as these two.

“We had 37 absences in the first semester last year,” Jeff said.

“We missed math every other day,” Brendan said. But good grades are a requirement for hockey players like any other student.

Despite the challenges, their experiences in other cities have been positive.

“Penticton was super good to us,” Brendan said. In Salmon Arm, everyone lives 10 minutes away from each other, which helps build camaraderie, he added.

“Wherever we are, doesn’t mean Terrace isn’t home,” he said.

“We did spend a lot of time here,” Jeff said. And this is where the development of the talented twins took place.

They said Ashley Whittington from Northcoast Fitness was a huge influence. “He totally helped us so much, this year, … to take our game to the next level,” Brendan said.

As for playing on the same team in the future, “ If it works, it works,” said Brendan. “If not, it’s not the end of the world.”