Large twins leading Bishop Canevin hockey team
Telling twin brothers Austin and Patrick Large apart can be a struggle, but thanks to several years of coaching the pair, Bishop Canevin hockey's Kevin Zielmanski has figured out an easy ways to distinguish between the senior duo.
“It certainly helps when they wear their jerseys,” Zielmanski said. “And when they have different haircuts helps. They have different personalities. Having them together really helps distinguish them from one another.”
The brothers have skated off to a strong beginning to this season as the team's top point producers and have helped the Crusaders snag a 4-0-1 start.
“It is nice to see them rewarded for their contributions to the team,” Zielmanski said. “You hope when you have players who work hard, they will be rewarded. And they are, which is nice to see.”
Patrick leads the team points with seven goals and four assists. Austin is in second with five goals and four assists. It's a large increase in production from last season, as Austin finished with 13 points and Patrick had 11.
The spike in production is welcomed, as Bishop Canevin lost two of its top three point producers from last season — including Matt Walsh, who led the team with 60 points.
“We knew we had to step up as seniors,” Patrick said. “We knew we had to try to lead the team and carry them through the season, especially early on.”
The brothers are two of the most tenured Bishop Canevin players. They joined the freshman team in sixth grade and played on the unit through their freshman year of high school.
The duo moved up to the varsity squad as sophomores and were part of the 2010-11 team that won the Class AA Penguins and Pennsylvania cups. The brothers agreed that the seniors have influenced them on how to act as leaders on the ice.
“We saw what it took,” Austin said. “You had captains like Frank Vance who brought the team together. I don't know if we had that last year. After the tournament, at the beginning of this season, we saw the team come together and start to find ways to win.”
The brothers said they took a serious attitude into this season after the Crusaders' dismal performance at the St. Margaret's Fall Faceoff Tournament. The preseason tournament is a yearly event that features some of the best squads in the PIHL.
The Crusaders won the 2011 tournament. Bishop Canevin struggled this season and went 0-3 in pool play.
“We know we are expected to lead,” Patrick said. “It really hit us when our season started so bad. We all want to get back to Consol (Energy Center) and know it is on our shoulders as top guys.”
Added Austin: “We knew we had to take responsibility.”
Since the tournament, the Crusaders have gone 4-0-1. The tie was a 4-4 game against defending Class AA Penguins Cup champion West Allegheny.
“We had a weak game that night” Patrick said. “But we'll get them next time.”
The brothers helped the Crusaders down Erie Cathedral Prep, 5-2, last week. Patrick finished with two goals and an assist, and Austin had a goal.
Zielmanski said while the brothers haven't grown much physically from when they first joined the varsity team, their shooting and understanding of the game has improved greatly.
“Their ability to read plays is really high,” Zielmanski said. “I think the development of their shot as they have matured is probably the biggest improvement of any of their attributes.”
Part of the brothers' success is their chemistry with linemate Chris Reda. The trio fill out the top line for the Crusaders after playing as the third line all of last season.
“We love him like a brother,” Austin said. “He always knows where we are at on the ice. He is just like a third brother.”
While the Crusaders are off to a hot start, the Large brothers are bringing a veteran's eye to the early success. They know a long season awaits the team, and they would rather look at the game ahead instead of the ultimate prize.
“We have to look at the short-term goals,” Patrick said. “We need to take the season game to game. If we can do that and get the wins, it will build our confidence and help us get back to Consol.”
The Crusaders return to the ice at 7:10 tonight, Thursday, to take on Montour at the Mt. Lebanon Recreation Center.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.