The Yorkton Terriers are a family affair.
The Canalta Cup champions have three sets of brothers in their lineup: Chase and Brady Norrish, Jeremy and Dylan Johnson, as well as John and Dakota Odgers.
Terriers head coach Trent Cassan believes it is unprecedented.
“I’m only 30-years-old, so I haven’t been around as long as some, but I don’t think there has ever been a team before with three sets of brothers,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to coach three sets of brothers. It will be a good story to tell down the road.”
Each set of brothers has a vital and different role for the Terriers.
Brady and Chase Norrish, who are identical 19-year-old twins, anchor the back end. The Strongfield, Sk., natives have not only been solid defensively, but also offensively, combining for 14 goals and 52 points throughout the regular-season.
“They are big players for us,” said Cassan. “They contribute at both ends of the ice with some smart hockey plays. They also are leaders for us. They both wear letters and are great in the dressing room.”
Jeremy and Dylan Johnson are scorers, but in different stages of their junior careers. In his overage season, Jeremy led Yorkton in goals with 28 in 51 games. Meanwhile, Dylan is in his rookie season with the club as an 18-year-old. He was a depth scorer for the Terriers, potting five goals and 11 points in 32 games.
“We counted on Jeremy all year for goals,” said Cassan. “He scored often and some were very big goals throughout the year. Dylan came in as a rookie and made an impact. He’s a big guy (6-foot-4, 220-pounds) and can be a valuable guy in front of the net.”
The Johnson brothers took the path less traveled to junior A hockey. The two forwards didn’t play “AAA” or “AA” puck in their minor hockey days. Instead, they played at the “A” level to leave them with more time for other sports.
“They are really well-rounded athletes,” said Cassan. “Most hockey players won’t play in the SJHL if they don’t play AAA or at least AA beforehand. But since Jeremy and Dylan are such good athletes, they have been able to make the jump.”
John Odgers, 19, has been playing with the Terriers all season as an energy player. But Dakota Odgers, who turned 17 on April 2, recently joined the club in the playoffs after spending the year with the Yorkton Harvest and playing with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League before the Calgary Hitmen knocked them out of the playoffs.
“John is a great character guy in the room and on the ice,” said Cassan. “He plays with a lot of heart and can shift the momentum in our favour with a hit or a fight.”
“We had Dakota play a couple games with us during the year and saw him play with the Harvest, so we didn’t hesitate to put him in our lineup because we knew what he could do.”
Dakota made an immediate offensive impact for the Terriers since joining the club at the end of March. The 5-foot-11, 187-pound winger potted four goals and eight points in eight games.
“I’ve been working hard, but I’ve also had some puck luck around the net,” said Dakota. “And my linemates Tayler Thompson and Patrick Martens have made things easier on me. They feed me the puck when I’m open and put themselves in the right spot at the right time.”
For John and Dakota, hockey runs in the family with their father, Jeff Odgers, having a long and successful NHL career under his belt.
“We were meant to play hockey,” said John. “We both love it and it’s great to have a father who played in the NHL and can give us great pointers along the way.”
Even though Brady and Chase Norrish are identical twins, the consensus is the Odgers brothers are the closest of the set of three.
“John and Dakota have a really strong relationship,” said Cassan. “John is three years older and he looks out for Dakota even though Dakota has shown he can hold his own. You can just tell they are very close.”
“We are very close brothers,” added John. “We billet together and always spend time together. I don’t think too many brothers are as close as us.”
In terms of which set of brothers have the biggest rivalry, it appears Jeremy and Dylan Johnson win that category.
“Jeremy and Dylan always go at it at practice,” said Cassan. “Even though Jeremy is two years older, Dylan has the bigger frame (6-foot-4, 220-pounds), so it’s tough for Jeremy to push around his younger brother. It’s a fun rivalry.”
It seems the Terriers will only have one band of brothers – Brady and Chase Norrish – next year because Jeremy Johnson will be graduating from the junior ranks and Dakota Odgers is poised to crack the Broncos in the WHL.