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Boys Hockey: Brainerd brotherhood

5 Andres brothers on same team - a MSHSL rarity This Brainerd Warrior boys hockey season has been like a brotherhood. All five sons of Lee and Michelle Andres are regulars this season and four were among the team's top seven scorers through 20 games.

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The five Andres brothers on the Brainerd Warrior boys hockey team include Riley (left), Westin, Mitchel, Wyatt and Gavin. Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!
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5 Andres brothers on same team - a MSHSL rarity This Brainerd Warrior boys hockey season has been like a brotherhood. All five sons of Lee and Michelle Andres are regulars this season and four were among the team's top seven scorers through 20 games. It could be one of the first times that five brothers have played on the same varsity boys hockey team in Minnesota State High School League history. If it isn't the first time, it's an extremely rare occurrence. There's yet another dynamic to the Andres' story-three of the five are triplets. That has to make theirs one of the most unique situations MSHSL boys hockey has ever seen. Mitchel Andres is the elder statesman, a senior defenseman, whose partner often is Gavin, his sophomore brother and one of the triplets. The other triplets, Wyatt and Riley, often play on the same forward line. Rounding out the Andres brood is freshman defenseman Westin. "I would have a hard time believing it's ever happened before," Warriors head coach Dave Aus said of five brothers on the same varsity hockey team. "When I was in Litchfield growing up, I think we had four brothers at one time on a football team, but that was a little bit different. This is a very unique situation." ---   ---   ---   ---   ---
Andres family profiles Mother: Michelle, 40 Father: Lee, 39 Mitchel: Senior, 6-2, 185, D, left shot Gavin: Sophomore, 5-11, 170, D, left shot Wyatt: Sophomore, 5-9, 160, F, right shot Riley: Sophomore, 5-8, 155, F, left shot Westin: Freshman, 5-11, 150, F, left shot ---   ---   ---   ---   --- How does Aus keep all of their names straight? "I remember first names because the first thing that pops into your head is last name," he said. "Once in a while, it's a little bit difficult, particularly with Wyatt and Riley. Mitchel has never been an issue because he's been around and Gavin (was a varsity player last year). Wyatt and Riley a lot of times it takes me a couple seconds. It's not that they're unrecognizable, but it's not to call one the other one and I don't know why that is. Westin. ... he's another quiet kid who flies under the radar a little bit." Being parents with hockey players on two or more different youth teams would be difficult enough since each team has different schedules for traveling tournaments and practice times. One might think having five boys just three years apart was a logistical nightmare as they were coming up through the ranks. Michelle and Lee Andres said nothing could be farther from the truth in their case. Sometimes their boys were on three different teams but the triplets and Westin often were teammates. "We think lots of other families have it way harder than us because they have boys and girls. We just have boys," Michelle said. "Because our boys are only three years apart, we've only had a couple of teams to deal with, where people who have four or five kids, and they're two years apart, they're literally going in every direction. "Most of the time we were always together. Very seldom did we have to split up." Having all five play for Brainerd at the same time is particularly special for Lee, who played three seasons for the Warriors and graduated in 1996. "What's neat too is over the years the boys have put in the work to be able to all be on the same team," Lee said. "We always talked about it but I don't know if we ever thought it would happen or not. But this year, when Westin ended up going out for the high school team, and making the high school team, we looked at each other and said 'It's here.'" ---   ---   ---   ---   --- What Brainerd coach Dave Aus says about:Wyatt Andres“I think he’s been our most consistent forward from the beginning of the year until now and he gets zero recognition for it.” Riley Andres: “He’s another kind of a Swiss Army Knife guy who can do everything.” Mitchel Andres: “Bemidji, the second time, he almost single-handedly took the game over. He willed us to win.” Gavin Andres: “Boy, does the puck get off his stick quick.” Westin Andres: “For him, the biggest thing is, we’re trying to get him on the ice as much as we can.” ---   ---   ---   ---   --- Andres family dinners revolve around hockey. They make sure their day ends with all five boys and parents at the dinner table. "Family dinners are a super big deal in our house," Michelle said. "Even when we had three different hockey schedules, sometimes we would have dinner at 4:30, sometimes we had dinner at 9:30, but we always made sure we had family dinner. "Now, having all of them on the same team, we know as soon as they get home, we can have dinner. That's probably been, as a mom, my favorite thing-that we just get to have a lot of family dinners at the same time." "Dinners, when they get home in the evening, revolve around their hockey schedule," Lee said. "Our main topic of conversation is hockey obviously. We enjoy every minute of it." Spending time at Essential Health Sports Center in Brainerd and on the road to games can be family bonding time. "Sometimes people complain or say I don't want my kids to do hockey because it's too expensive or it's just so time consuming," Michelle said. "I think it's been a major bond in our family because, when you're away, it's like little mini-vacations. You're not worrying about laundry or making dinner. You're just really enjoying each other." Aus agrees and believes hockey is a family and a community builder. "People who say otherwise don't look at it logically," he said. "For (the Andres) in particular, with three of them, in some years four of them, playing together coming up, it had to be nice economically in terms of travel, but more so because they got to spend time together. "That's the way we try to look at it in our house. There's not a better way for me to get to know my second daughter than to take her to a tournament and spend a weekend with her. That's fantastic." Mitchel, a 3-year varsity regular, is the Warriors' second-leading scorer with 22 points. He said it's cool to have four brothers as teammates. "Any time I'm on the ice, one of them is out there," Mitchel said. "It's pretty surreal. I cherish being out there as much as I can. (The season) goes by so fast." Gavin, who played in all 26 games last season as a freshman and finished with 10 points, has accumulated 13 points this season. He said he and his brothers are on the same page on the ice. "We're kind of helping each other out," Gavin said. "Throughout the whole game you're with each other. It's really been fun." Wyatt has 13 points. He said it's the first time the other four have had the opportunity to play with on a team with Mitchel. "We've had it where four of us were on the same team, but never with Mitchel," Wyatt said. "It's also nice because I play on a line with (Riley) and sometimes I'm out there with the defensive pair of Mitchel and Gavin." Riley, who has 12 points, said having an outdoor rink at home helped forge a special bond between the brothers. "Since we were little, we've always had a rink at home so we've always had a lot of good chemistry. We know where each other are on the rink," Riley said. "It's good. I like playing with them. Wyatt and I probably play the best together." Westin, 15, has two assists while making the adjustment from Bantams to varsity hockey this winter. He said it's been awesome having all of his brothers on the same team, especially Mitchel. "Normally I look up to Mitch, and he's like a role model for the team, too," Westin said, "It's fun playing with him." Michelle, a 1995 BHS graduate and a world-class triathlete who has completed eight Ironman Triathlons, said her sons couldn't have become the young men they are, or the players they have become, without the help of special people like the Grillo family at Minnesota Hockey Camps in Nisswa, former Warriors head coach Jim Archibald and Joe Ciardelli at Takedown Gym. "There were a couple summers, like when I was training for Wisconsin and training for Kona, the boys literally lived (at MHC)," Michelle said. "The boys had their own little cabin in the Grillo's front yard-they literally lived in the Grillo's front yard-and the Grillos looked after them. They grew so much in those couple of summers. "Jim Archibald has really taken the boys under his wing and has been such a mentor to them." "And they work out at Takedown every morning with Joe Ciardelli," Lee said.5 Andres brothers on same team - a MSHSL rarityThis Brainerd Warrior boys hockey season has been like a brotherhood.All five sons of Lee and Michelle Andres are regulars this season and four were among the team's top seven scorers through 20 games. It could be one of the first times that five brothers have played on the same varsity boys hockey team in Minnesota State High School League history. If it isn't the first time, it's an extremely rare occurrence.There's yet another dynamic to the Andres' story-three of the five are triplets. That has to make theirs one of the most unique situations MSHSL boys hockey has ever seen.Mitchel Andres is the elder statesman, a senior defenseman, whose partner often is Gavin, his sophomore brother and one of the triplets. The other triplets, Wyatt and Riley, often play on the same forward line. Rounding out the Andres brood is freshman defenseman Westin."I would have a hard time believing it's ever happened before," Warriors head coach Dave Aus said of five brothers on the same varsity hockey team. "When I was in Litchfield growing up, I think we had four brothers at one time on a football team, but that was a little bit different. This is a very unique situation."---   ---   ---   ---   ---
Andres family profilesMother: Michelle, 40Father: Lee, 39Mitchel: Senior, 6-2, 185, D, left shotGavin: Sophomore, 5-11, 170, D, left shotWyatt: Sophomore, 5-9, 160, F, right shotRiley: Sophomore, 5-8, 155, F, left shotWestin: Freshman, 5-11, 150, F, left shot---   ---   ---   ---   ---How does Aus keep all of their names straight?"I remember first names because the first thing that pops into your head is last name," he said. "Once in a while, it's a little bit difficult, particularly with Wyatt and Riley. Mitchel has never been an issue because he's been around and Gavin (was a varsity player last year). Wyatt and Riley a lot of times it takes me a couple seconds. It's not that they're unrecognizable, but it's not to call one the other one and I don't know why that is. Westin. ... he's another quiet kid who flies under the radar a little bit."Being parents with hockey players on two or more different youth teams would be difficult enough since each team has different schedules for traveling tournaments and practice times. One might think having five boys just three years apart was a logistical nightmare as they were coming up through the ranks.Michelle and Lee Andres said nothing could be farther from the truth in their case. Sometimes their boys were on three different teams but the triplets and Westin often were teammates."We think lots of other families have it way harder than us because they have boys and girls. We just have boys," Michelle said. "Because our boys are only three years apart, we've only had a couple of teams to deal with, where people who have four or five kids, and they're two years apart, they're literally going in every direction."Most of the time we were always together. Very seldom did we have to split up."Having all five play for Brainerd at the same time is particularly special for Lee, who played three seasons for the Warriors and graduated in 1996."What's neat too is over the years the boys have put in the work to be able to all be on the same team," Lee said. "We always talked about it but I don't know if we ever thought it would happen or not. But this year, when Westin ended up going out for the high school team, and making the high school team, we looked at each other and said 'It's here.'"---   ---   ---   ---   ---What Brainerd coach Dave Aus says about:Wyatt Andres“I think he’s been our most consistent forward from the beginning of the year until now and he gets zero recognition for it.”Riley Andres: “He’s another kind of a Swiss Army Knife guy who can do everything.”Mitchel Andres: “Bemidji, the second time, he almost single-handedly took the game over. He willed us to win.”Gavin Andres: “Boy, does the puck get off his stick quick.”Westin Andres: “For him, the biggest thing is, we’re trying to get him on the ice as much as we can.”---   ---   ---   ---   ---Andres family dinners revolve around hockey. They make sure their day ends with all five boys and parents at the dinner table."Family dinners are a super big deal in our house," Michelle said. "Even when we had three different hockey schedules, sometimes we would have dinner at 4:30, sometimes we had dinner at 9:30, but we always made sure we had family dinner."Now, having all of them on the same team, we know as soon as they get home, we can have dinner. That's probably been, as a mom, my favorite thing-that we just get to have a lot of family dinners at the same time.""Dinners, when they get home in the evening, revolve around their hockey schedule," Lee said. "Our main topic of conversation is hockey obviously. We enjoy every minute of it."Spending time at Essential Health Sports Center in Brainerd and on the road to games can be family bonding time."Sometimes people complain or say I don't want my kids to do hockey because it's too expensive or it's just so time consuming," Michelle said. "I think it's been a major bond in our family because, when you're away, it's like little mini-vacations. You're not worrying about laundry or making dinner. You're just really enjoying each other."Aus agrees and believes hockey is a family and a community builder."People who say otherwise don't look at it logically," he said. "For (the Andres) in particular, with three of them, in some years four of them, playing together coming up, it had to be nice economically in terms of travel, but more so because they got to spend time together."That's the way we try to look at it in our house. There's not a better way for me to get to know my second daughter than to take her to a tournament and spend a weekend with her. That's fantastic."Mitchel, a 3-year varsity regular, is the Warriors' second-leading scorer with 22 points. He said it's cool to have four brothers as teammates."Any time I'm on the ice, one of them is out there," Mitchel said. "It's pretty surreal. I cherish being out there as much as I can. (The season) goes by so fast."Gavin, who played in all 26 games last season as a freshman and finished with 10 points, has accumulated 13 points this season. He said he and his brothers are on the same page on the ice."We're kind of helping each other out," Gavin said. "Throughout the whole game you're with each other. It's really been fun."Wyatt has 13 points. He said it's the first time the other four have had the opportunity to play with on a team with Mitchel."We've had it where four of us were on the same team, but never with Mitchel," Wyatt said. "It's also nice because I play on a line with (Riley) and sometimes I'm out there with the defensive pair of Mitchel and Gavin."Riley, who has 12 points, said having an outdoor rink at home helped forge a special bond between the brothers."Since we were little, we've always had a rink at home so we've always had a lot of good chemistry. We know where each other are on the rink," Riley said. "It's good. I like playing with them. Wyatt and I probably play the best together."Westin, 15, has two assists while making the adjustment from Bantams to varsity hockey this winter. He said it's been awesome having all of his brothers on the same team, especially Mitchel."Normally I look up to Mitch, and he's like a role model for the team, too," Westin said, "It's fun playing with him."Michelle, a 1995 BHS graduate and a world-class triathlete who has completed eight Ironman Triathlons, said her sons couldn't have become the young men they are, or the players they have become, without the help of special people like the Grillo family at Minnesota Hockey Camps in Nisswa, former Warriors head coach Jim Archibald and Joe Ciardelli at Takedown Gym."There were a couple summers, like when I was training for Wisconsin and training for Kona, the boys literally lived (at MHC)," Michelle said. "The boys had their own little cabin in the Grillo's front yard-they literally lived in the Grillo's front yard-and the Grillos looked after them. They grew so much in those couple of summers."Jim Archibald has really taken the boys under his wing and has been such a mentor to them." "And they work out at Takedown every morning with Joe Ciardelli," Lee said.

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Lee and Michelle Andres cheer after one of their sons scored a goal during a game this season. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch

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