It's a family affair, times two, for the Lakers co-op hockey team.
The Lakers feature players from Antioch, Lakes, Grayslake North and Grayslake Central.
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There's Anthony and Nikko Conn, plus Brandon and Cody Brumm, seniors and sophomores, respectively, from Lakes. All are defensemen except Brandon, who is a center. All shoot left-handed, except right-handed shooting Anthony.
"I love playing with my brother because I will always have his back on the ice no matter what," Brandon Brumm said.
"Being teammates with my brother is better than anything else because I know that, with the help of my brother, we can get ourselves out of any sticky situation we put ourselves into, whether it be in the locker room, at practice, or in a game," Cody Brumm added.
The Brumm brothers live in Lindenhurst. Brandon is the admittedly "aggressive, hard-nosed" player, while Cody is "laid back with good vision" on the ice.
The Conn family lives in Lake Villa. Anthony is a talented playmaker, while Nikko is a sturdy defensive specialist.
"It makes my job a lot easier (having Nikko on the team)," Anthony Conn said. "He knows my style of play and I know his. He is always where I need him and vice versa. We communicate well on and off the ice. The best thing (about having my brother as a teammate) is knowing where he is all the time and knowing he's got my back. The worst thing is when (one of us) does something wrong. It is a little more emotional because we both know we are better than what we did wrong.
"He has picked up the slack when I have made a mistake, or backed me up when (physical play) begins."
Such as the time this season when a scrum started in front of the Lakers' goal. An opponent came from behind him and punched Nikko in the back of the head.
"I came in, grabbed the kid, pulled him off balance, knocking him (to the ice)," Anthony Conn said. "Together, we kept our goalie safe and secure."
Cody Brumm said the sibling chemistry definitely is a benefit on the ice, yet "having to live in my brother's shadow of hockey success" has been the worst part.
"My brother has kicked any and every player's butt who has ever (taken a) cheap-shot or talked smack to me."
Big-brother Brandon added: "My brother is a stud on defense and has saved me from my mistakes plenty of times."
Brandon Brumm admitted that the sibling sensation has been most enjoyable for their mom.
"There is always someone on the ice watching over her little one," he said.
Cody added: "It's been a great time, even with our losses. It's priceless to have two sets of brothers on one team."
The Lakers have struggled in the North Central Division, with a 2-22 record in league play, including a 4-2 loss to Carmel on Jan. 6, and a 5-2 loss on Jan. 9 to the co-op PREP team, filled with players from Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Elk Grove and Palatine. The Lakers' lone league wins have been over Lake Zurich and St. Patrick.
Brandon Brumm is second on the team in scoring with 6 goals, 4 assists in 23 league games. Cody has 1 goal, 2 assists. Anthony Conn has 1 goal, 4 assists, while big-brother Nikko has 2 assists.
"It's nice and certainly unique to have two sets of brothers on the team, especially since both combos are a sophomore and a senior," said Lakers assistant coach Mike Wagner. "The older brothers definitely bring a leadership role to the team, and all four always watch out for each other."
Anthony Conn said having two sets of brothers definitely has helped the team this season.
"Brandon and I help teach Cody and Nikko what we know so that when we leave high school, they can carry on the brotherhood that we shared and develop it with the whole team," he said. "This season, being the first year for the Lakers, there was not much brotherhood, but as time goes on and the players get to know each other, (team) chemistry developed.
"It's been great having someone that would stick up for you and have your back no matter what."
It also, though, has been frustrating, at times. Anthony admits he's had to control his temper toward Nikko after on-ice mistakes.
"(That) frustrates me, but I know that if I tell him he will correct it the next shift. I want to set the bar as high as I can, so that it gives my brother a goal to beat when he is my age. I want him to carry on what I think Brandon and I have started."
Added Nikko: "Being teammates with Anthony is great because we know each other's technique, strengths, and weaknesses. Being on the same team as my brother is an amazing feeling because he's always got your back. The worst part is, he can always hold a grudge at home. Still, my brother has helped me on the ice, by practicing together and improving each other, passing the puck often, helping me with my shot and agility."
Brandon Brumm said the family affair is not just an on-ice thing.
"I do my best to show my brother the ropes of not only hockey," he said, "but, most importantly, life."