NORTHFORD – Being on the varsity team is no easy task for a freshman.
Starting on the top line is even harder.
How about having your brother, who is the captain, the team’s best player and maybe the top player in Division III be on the team with you?
Welcome to Jack Roberts’ freshman season.
“I wanted to prove myself,” Jack Roberts said. “So playing with him gives me that push.”
Big brother, Kyle Roberts, knew what his brother was capable of doing on the ice, so he knew he could push him a little more.
“It’s been a little tough,” Kyle said. “I like to be hard on him, but I don’t want to be too hard on him.”
— Pete Paguaga (@PetePaguaga) December 27, 2018
When the season started, Lyman Hall/Haddam-Killingworth/Coginchaug coach Richie Minnix decided to not play the two brothers together.
After some practices, scrimmages and then right before the first game of the season, Kyle asked Minnix to put them together.
“I’m like alright, we’ll give it a shot,” Minnix said.
In that game, Jack scored the game-tying goal with five seconds left and added two more assists in a 5-4 overtime win over North Haven.
“Then we realized, yeah they should play together,” Minnix said with a laugh.
The three-point opening night surprised many, including Kyle.
“I didn’t know,” Kyle said. “I knew he was a great player. I think he is better than I was freshman year – I’ll say that, I know that for a fact. But with our schedule – at the beginning – I didn’t think he would be that much of a help, especially playing Branford, Cheshire, big physical teams. He’s been a lot more of a help than I thought.”
The physicality of the game was one thing that Jack said was the biggest difference from last year to this year.
“The speed and the amount of hits that are thrown in games. It’s a lot more physical,” Jack said. “I’m not the one of the fastest players, I have to learn to pass more, be able to pick my head up and use my speed.”
So far this season, Jack has four goals and seven assists for 11 points in just six games.
“He’s stepping right up to the plate,” Minnix said. “It’s almost like he is a sophomore or junior at this point.”
With the help of his brother, Kyle has continued his dominance over opponents, scoring six goals and adding 13 assists for 19 points, helping the Trojans to a 4-2 start.
Chalk it up to a brother connection?
“It was so much fun, he’s such a good playmaker, he knows where to be. He’s such a good passer,” Kyle said. “It’s unbelievable.
“I don’t understand it, but I feel like we always know where each other is. We just have that knowledge of where to put the puck and where to be. He’s just always there, he helps me out so much.”
Both of their play has helped junior forward – and linemate – Matt Pettit immensely.
“I just kind of sit back and watch,” Pettit said. “I’m just trying to fit in the best I can.”
Pettit has done that, scoring nine goals and adding eight assists this season. He also has had two hat-tricks.
— Pete Paguaga (@PetePaguaga) December 26, 2018
Earlier this season Jack helped Kyle reach the 150-point plateau for his career in their 6-4 win over Westhill/Stamford.
“We’re producing a lot goals because we know where each other is,” said Jack, who added that the hockey talk doesn’t stop at the rink. “(We) watch the games (at home) to see what we can do better.”
Also at home are two very excited parents – Nicole and Bill Roberts – who get to see their sons play hockey on the same team for the first time.
There is also grandma, Mary Arnold, who might be the duo’s biggest fan.
“They were super excited,” Kyle said. “They have been looking forward to it. After my sophomore year, they realized that it was getting closer and closer.”
Both mom and grandma sport pins on their jackets that read, both, No. 19 for Kyle and No. 8 for Jack.
“They have been our best supporters, they love seeing us play together,” Kyle said. “They just love it.”
It also helps that the parents only have to drive to one rink now and they don’t have to drive them to practice.
“He doesn’t even pay me for gas,” Kyle said with a laugh.
Correction: An early version stated that both brothers went to Coginchaug High School. Kyle goes to Coginchaug and Jack goes to Lyman Hall.