To play on the same hockey team for the better part of three years is special. But to move across the country to attend the same university and play on that university team for an even longer amount of time, is an even more memorable life moment.
Two hockey players, one story.
Brogan O’Brien and Aaron Boyd have spent the past four years playing on two different hockey teams together.
And due to the fact that they’ve spent four years on teams together, O’Brien and Boyd have picked up on each other’s similarities as people.
“We get along very well. So, it’s funny you ask, because I sit in between both of them in the dressing room, so he’s a very funny guy, good sense of humour, and like I said, he’s a bit quiet, but when he does have something to say, it’s always positive and he’s just a happy go lucky guy,” Carleton Ravens men’s hockey teammate, Alex Boivin, said about what O’Brien is like as a person.
“You know what, they’re very similar, that’s why they get along very well together. They knew each other pretty well coming in. I had the pleasure of being the first one to get to know them, because I sit beside them and I hear all their conversations,” he added about what Boyd is like as a person.
For O’Brien, growing up in Prince George, British Columbia, the small-town vibes allowed him to build friendships with guys that he will be friends with for life.
“I’ve always enjoyed it. I got to play hockey there my whole life, so it’s been fun,” O’Brien said.
On the other hand, Boyd grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and got his start in hockey due to his parents.
“My parents just put me in the sport, and taught me how to skate, and it just took off from there,” Boyd said.
While growing up in BC, O’Brien played for the Cariboo Cougars of the BC Hockey Major Midget League (BCMML), the Prince George Spruce Kings of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), and the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League (WHL).
While playing for the Cariboo, O’Brien played in two games, recording three goals and three assists for six points.
Following his time with the Cariboo Cougars, O’Brien went on to the Spruce Kings, in which he played in 121 games, recording 25 goals and 29 assists for 54 points.
“It was good. I was pretty young on the team then, I was the youngest guy two years in a row, so it was a little different than playing for the Cougars, but I enjoyed it there, I have a lot of really good friends that I still talk with now that I played with there,” O’Brien said about his time on the Spruce Kings.
While growing up in Winnipeg, Boyd played for the Winnipeg Hawks Bantam AAA of the Winnipeg Bantam AAA (WBAAA) league, the Winnipeg Hawks Midget AAA, and the Winnipeg Thrashers Midget AAA of the Metro Minor Hockey League (MMHL), before traveling down to BC to play for the Prince George Cougars.
While playing for the Winnipeg Hawks Bantam AAA, Boyd played in 30 games, recording 16 goals and 19 points for 35 points.
Following his time in Bantam, Boyd moved up to Midget, and while playing on the Winnipeg Hawks Midget AAA, Boyd played in 34 games, recording 14 goals and ten assists for 24 points.
In the 2013-14 season, Boyd played for the Thrashers for 38 games, recording 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points.
“Yeah, when I was 13 playing with the Hawks, we won the Championship that year. So that was probably the most memorable out of all of it,” Boyd said.
O’Brien and Boyd first met on the Prince George Cougars in the 2015-16 season, a full season after Boyd had already been on the team.
“He came at the end of my first season in the WHL, and I wasn’t playing a lot, so I don’t think we said anything to each other until the next season,” Boyd said about meeting O’Brien for the first time.
While playing for the Prince George Cougars, O’Brien played in 203 games, recording 46 goals and 87 assists for 133 points, while Boyd played in 266 games, recording 37 goals and 50 assists for 87 points.
O’Brien and Boyd would spend three years on the Cougars together, before aging out of the WHL.
Following their junior career, they both moved off to the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). O’Brien to the Kansas City Mavericks, and Boyd to the Rapid City Rush.
While on the Mavericks, O’Brien played in four games, recording one goal and one assist for two points. In one of those games, he faced off against former Cougars teammate, and current Ontario University Athletics (OUA) athlete, Jared Bethune.
“It was pretty fun. It was different seeing him on the other side for once, but we laughed about it after the game, so it was pretty fun,” O’Brien said.
While on the Rush, Boyd played in five games, recording three goals and one assist for four points.
“It was fun. It was a lot different than playing junior hockey. You notice that you’re playing against real men right away. I’d say it was just a lot faster hockey,” Boyd said.
Following the end of the 2017-18 season, both O’Brien and Boyd made the decision to move to Ottawa, Ontario, to attend Carleton University and play for the Carleton Ravens men’s hockey team.
“I came on my recruitment trip and it was pretty cool. I liked the city a lot, and the coaching staff is something that you always look for, and I really got along with them well,” O’Brien said about his decision to head to Carleton.
“So, it made it a lot easier too coming with Aaron, and knowing a lot of other Western guys are coming out too, so it was good,” he added.
While playing for the Ravens so far, O’Brien has played in 35 games, recording 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points, while Boyd has played in 36 games, recording six goals and seven assists for 13 points.
And while O’Brien and Boyd have made a name for themselves as Ravens due to their numbers on the ice, their teammates have noticed that they are very similar.
“My first impression, they’re obviously very shy. They’re two shy individuals. I knew the first day that they came that they would fit in well. Obviously, I saw them play hockey, they are excellent hockey players, and we are super happy to have them commit here,” Boivin said.
“But I mean, it’s no surprise that it’s a long way from home and it’s a big adjustment, so, I think at first, they kept to themselves a bit, but they’ve grown to be a big part of the team on and off the ice,” he added.
Coming on to the Ravens with little to no expectations, O’Brien and Boyd won bronze in the OUA and clinched a berth at nationals in their first season playing university hockey.
“It was a pretty special experience. I think you can’t take it for granted. A lot of guys have played here for a long time and never got to go yet, so I think we’re pretty fortunate to go in our first year,” O’Brien said.
While O’Brien and Boyd have both faced challenges and adversities to get to where they are today, they pride themselves on the fact that they’re dedicated and respectful to themselves and to the sport.
“I think just how much dedication it takes to be an athlete and especially in hockey, playing eight months out of the year usually, and then training for four more in the summer with little down time, I think that takes a lot of dedication and I’m proud of that,” Boyd said about what he takes pride in as an athlete.
And due to taking pride in determination and respect, their pride has allowed them to grow as athletes and as people. But even though they’ve noticed their individual growth, O’Brien and Boyd have also noticed each other’s growth.
“Off the ice, he’s opened up a lot to me more, used to be pretty quiet, so I think we’ve become pretty good friends in the last couple of years, definitely,” O’Brien reminisced about how he has noticed Boyd’s growth.
“On the ice, I think his confidence has grown a lot, I think he had a tough couple first years in junior, but he’s grown a lot in that way, and he’s become a good player,” he added.
And coming to the Ravens, to a university team, has allowed O’Brien and Boyd to realize how close the family dynamic of the Ravens is.
“Your teams are a little bigger when you come to university hockey, but I think everybody gets along really well here, and I think anybody in our room would do anything for anyone, so, its been a really good team so far,” O’Brien said.
And in regards to next season, both O’Brien and Boyd are hoping to replicate this past season and go further in the playoffs.
“I think just trying to do the same thing. Go back to nationals again. We have a lot of guys coming back, and hopefully they bring in some good recruits this year, and continue to get better,” O’Brien said.
Not only are O’Brien and Boyd looking forward to next season, Boivin is also looking forward to seeing them develop as players.
“I think they really came into their own as far as getting accustomed to the team and the teammates, and it’s been a pleasure seeing them, and hopefully they continue to develop like that and take pride in their hockey and school,” Boivin said.