A double dose of Delaney
Roaches’ Line brothers combining for a lethal combination
Brothers Keith and Ryan Delaney have been playing some of their best hockey during the early part of the 2011-12 Newfoundland Senior Hockey League Season.
Heading into action this past weekend, Keith was sitting in a tie atop the points race with 17 points ( four goals and 13 assists), while Ryan was tied for fifth with 11 points (three goals and eight assists).
What’s the secret to their early season success? Was it something they did in the off- season? Not according to Keith.
“I haven’t changed anything,” Keith told The Compass last week.
Keith has been doing the same routine since he left the province to play hockey in Ontario at the tender age of 15.
What has changed is the league they are playing in. For the first time in many years, there’s now a provincial senior hockey league, and the calibre of play is at the highest it’s been in some time. That seems to be bringing out the best in the Delaney boys.
“I don’t know if it was watered down last year, but it seems to have elevated his game and my game,” Keith said.
Ryan, 28, said he “really enjoys the close competitive games.”
“I find, myself, I finish better in a tight competitive game rather than a low tempo recreational game,” he said.
Keith, 32, echoed the same sentiment.
“I don’t even really, enjoy playing a game of shinny that much anymore,” he said.
Keith is at the point in his career where the competitiveness is what drives him to put on the gear every night.
He said he enjoys the competitive part of it and plans to play competitive hockey for as long as he can.
“I really enjoy the competitive nature of the new league and I like to think it brings the best out of me,” said Keith.
Ceebees’ assistant coach Peter George said the play of the two brothers has been “incredible.”
“They are just feeding off each other’s hard work day in and day out,” he said.
George said the brothers have stepped up their game this year, citing a tough loss in last season’s Herder Memorial Trophy final as one of the reasons behind their dominating play in the new league. Game recognizes game If they were playing on different lines, each Delaney would be a handful for any team in the league to handle, but they don’t.
Both play on the same line — Keith at centre and Ryan playing the right side.
This season, the combination has been dynamite in the offensive end of the ice.
“This has been one of our best years,” said Ryan. “We’ve really come together.”
There have been rotating wingers on the left side, with Sean Wadden and Morgan Warren taking up the position at different times.
A big part of their success as linemates revolves around their complementary, yet completely different games.
Keith describes Ryan as “more of a crasher and a banger.”
“He likes to get dirty in the corners and battle for the puck,” he said.
Keith said he has complete confidence that once the puck is dumped into the opposing team’s zone, Ryan will be the player coming out with the puck.
Ryan sees Keith’s game as the opposite of his.
“Keith has the ability to carry the puck through the neutral zone, pretty much whenever he wants,” he said.
Keith is more of open ice player, while Ryan likes to play along the boards.
Some observers say the Delaney boys have elevated their play to a level not seen in the years they’ve played senior hockey in the province. Bloodlines For Keith, the way the two have been connecting on the ice has nothing to do with the bloodlines shared between them.
“I don’t see it in that respect,” he said.
They play two different styles of game, noted Keith.
“Family or not, when you create a line, I think it is like a puzzle and everyone brings a different piece to make it fit,” he said. “What we bring to the table is a little bit different and we complement each other.”
Ryan and Keith have won two Herder Memorial titles together.
“It is great when you can share it with your brother,” said Ryan. “It is something nice to look back on.”
Keith (left) and Ryan Delaney celebrate a goal by Keith during Newfoundland Senior League Hockey action this season.