Brothers Jordan and Steve Heller are leaders for the Bemidji boys hockey team
When Steve and Peggy Heller needed to find their young sons during the winter they knew exactly where to look.
"My brother Jordan and I spent every day we could next door at the outdoor rink in Nymore," said Steve Heller, Jr. "It was great growing up in that neighborhood."
The Heller boys have never lost their love for skating and for hockey and today they will lace the skates in Roseau as the Bemidji boys hockey team faces the Rams.
Steve, a senior, leads the Lumberjacks offense with 12 goals and 27 points. Jordan, a junior, ranks sixth in team scoring with 10 goals and 21 points and their center, senior Tyler Follis, is tied for fourth with 10 goals and 23 points.
"I may be the leading scorer but it's all luck," Steve said. "My job is to be a grinder in the corners. My brother's job is the same. What we try to do is set up Tyler for the goals.
"I like being the grinder and I like laying some big hits," Steve continued. "What matters the most is putting some pucks in the net and it doesn't make any difference who does it."
"My job is to back check, score a few goals and stop the other team from putting pucks in our net," Jordan said. "I think our line works very well together. I've been playing with my brother since we were four or five years old on the outdoor rink and it's an honor being on the same line with him now."
When deciding who would play on which line BHS coach Wade Chiodo weighed all of his options and the talents of each individual player. Before the season he decided to flank Follis with the Hellers and he sees no reason to alter that decision now.
"The three of them compliment each other," Chiodo said. "Jordan is the greyhound. He has the speed and explosiveness. Steve is a power forward who is extremely tough to play against and brings a physical aspect to the game.
"Tyler is very crafty on the ice. When you consider a possible line combination you look at the chemistry," Chiodo continued. "You look at what might work. Ideally you want a guy on the line who brings energy, you want a guy who will go into the corners and you want a guy who is a goal scorer. This line has all of those ingredients and that's why they have been playing together all season."
There are no surprises during a game or a practice from the Heller brothers, according to Chiodo. When they come to the rink the coach knows what to expect.
"They are both very intense players and will do anything they can to help the team win," Chiodo said. "Both Steve and Jordan are long-time rink rats. They bring an intensity to practice that is obvious and it is a joy to have both of them on the team."
Playing together as siblings for so many years, the brothers have developed a sixth sense about each other's capabilities and movements. And they are utilizing that knowledge each time the line steps on the ice.
"Jordan is faster than me and quicker than me and probably knows more about hockey than I do," Steve said. "But I know where he will be on the ice. I don't have to find him when I want to pass. All I have to do is throw it in an area because I know he'll be there."
The brothers have helped the Lumberjacks post a 17-2-1 record but the season won't be a success without a legitimate run at the state tournament. Jordan is eager to see how far this team can go because he believes the Jacks have all the ingredients necessary to make it to state.
"Our goaltending is phenomenal," Jordan said. "Offensively we can score and our D-corps is great, too. Last year we had a few guys who may have been worried about their statistics but this year the only thing everyone is worried about is winning."
Developing that attitude is exactly what Chiodo preaches and it is obvious that his philosophy has taken root.
"It's been a fun year and coaching Steve and Jordan, because they compete hard and are all for the team, has been very enjoyable," Chiodo said. "Every day they play their roles and the roles are to do what is best for the team."