The Sykes brothers grew up playing hockey together.
On skates before preschool, and growing a competitive fire and a love for the sport.
But Tuesday the Sykes brothers, Cameron and Spencer, were no longer teammates, they were competitors.
Cameron, a junior, completed his transfer from Pine Creek to cross-town rival Rampart at the beginning of the year, just as Spencer solidified himself as a talented freshman starter for the Eagles.
“Spencer and I are really close, but I had to push him around a little bit,” Cameron said. “It was a lot of fun playing against him.”
The Sykes family was a house divided on Tuesday with rooting interested in both teams. The brothers’ father, Ted Sykes, was spotted in the stands sporting a Pine Creek hockey cap, and a Rampart hockey sweatshirt. Their mother Jackie baked cookies for both squads.
The team’s coaches organized a ceremonial puck drop between the Sykes brothers before the game began which came with bragging rights for Spencer.
“I told (Cameron) beforehand that I was going to win the faceoff,” Spencer said. “It was kind of awkward because we had a lot of people come to this game, but everyone started cheering for me when I won.”
The puck drop was the last friendly moment between the two dueling squads as Rampart claimed a 6-3 nonleague win over Pine Creek as the Sykes brothers were pitted against each other for the first time.
“We knew just from the drop of the puck it was going to be competitive and everyone was cheering for each brother even in a fake faceoff,” Pine Creek assistant coach Hal Jordan said. “So having that opportunity for them to face off against each other was awesome.”
Cameron said he had a hard time with the decision to transfer to Rampart because he wanted to be there to play with his little brother, but with just six games under his belt, it’s clear Cameron made a good decision in joining the Rams.
“I loved it at Pine Creek, but I just thought Rampart was the better school for me,” Cameron said. “I really wanted to play with my brother, but I think playing against him is better.”
He has four goals and eight assists, including two helpers against Pine Creek.
“Cameron does a lot of things for me as a coach,” Rampart coach Josh McIntosh said. “He’s big, he’s fast, he’s a fantastic kid and very coachable, I couldn’t be happier to have him. The first half of the season we were counting down, eight more games until Cameron, five more games until Cameron. We know he’s a heck of a player, you just have to put him in position to score points.”
Spencer, on the other hand is already making an impact as a freshman. He has five goals and six assists, tied for third on the team in points.
“Losing Cam hurt us but gaining his brother has helped us tremendously,” Jordan said. “He’s filling in his brother’s role, and frankly Spencer is way ahead of where Cam was his freshman year, and that’s because of his older brother.”
Spencer agreed that his competitive relationship with Cameron has helped him become a better hockey player.
“It’s always a competition between me and my brother,” Spencer said. “I started playing at 3, but he started at 4, so I always make fun of him for that. And I call him a traitor sometimes (for transferring) but we practice a lot together and try to make each other better.”