This year, Bishop Ireton High School has a varsity ice hockey team for the first season since 2006, but that’s not the only thing that sets the team apart – its roster also features four pairs of brothers from around Fairfax County.
The Chastain, Gerke, Roach and Tangora brothers share both the bond of family and the love of hockey, and, according to them, it helps on the ice.
“If one of us sees something that the other is doing wrong, we point it out, and that actually helps,” said junior Ben Gerke, who lives with his brother Stephen, a freshman, in the Rose Hill area. “We can get to the improvement a lot faster.”
Junior Dillon Roach and his freshman brother, Duke, said their bond helped them set each other up for plays. “I wouldn’t say we have a sixth sense or anything but I think it helps us know where we are on the ice,” said Dillon.
Dillon and his brother, residents of the Fort Hunt area, became interested in the game after attending free skate sessions when they were younger. “We didn’t have parents who played or anything,” Dillon said. “We just kind of picked up on it.”
It was a very different story for senior Dan Tangora and his sophomore brother Nick, Fairfax Station residents. “Our dad is from Detroit, and he grew up playing pond hockey,” Dan said. “He’s been playing his whole life and so have we.”
The Tangoras played together on Hayfield Secondary School’s team in the past, and Dan said it was a treat to play with his brother again. “We don’t really talk strategy, but we know where to leave the puck,” he said. “It seems like we watch each other a lot more. We pay more attention to where we are on the ice.”
Senior goalie Rob Chastain and his brother Will, a sophomore, got their start playing roller hockey in Tennessee. When they moved to the Fort Hunt area, they went to the Mount Vernon Rec Center and threw on ice skates. “I play defense, so I’m near [Rob] a lot actually,” Will said. “He can yell at me, I can yell at him, we can give each other tips.”
The brothers agreed that it helped to know they were always looking out for each other. “We’ve always, for the most part, played on different teams,” Ben said of he and his brother. “And I know that if I’ve ever seen him get laid out I’ve wanted to do something about it. And it’s really cool to have a chance to do that.”
The Bishop Ireton Cardinals have had a successful first season back as a varsity hockey team and are currently ranked third in the Smythe Division of the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League, and Ben Gerke was hopeful for their chances to make the playoffs.
“We’re right where we need to be right now,” he said. “I think we’re really coming together as a team and we’re playing well. If we continue to play the way we have been lately, our chances are great.”