Eric Leitch raised his hands to the rafters and quickly turned back towards the goal to shoot a grin to the goalie he just beat.
The goal wouldn't count. It was just a practice, and the goaltender he scored against was his twin brother, Andrew.
That's the scene every time the two seniors hit the ice for the St. Joseph's co-op hockey program.
"That's every practice, every day we're always trying to push each other to the limit," Eric said. "Not just hockey, but in all sports. It's always a competition for us in all the sports we play."
The next time Andrew had a chance to face his brother, he stopped the shot and the rebound before swatting the puck into the corner.
"[The celebrating] really only happens when he scores in practice," Andrew joked. "I'd be celebrating a lot if I did every time I made a save on him."
It's that competition against each other that has propelled the duo to be key members of not only the hockey team but also Mount Greylock's baseball and football teams.
"I won't call it a rivalry, but I know in practice Andrew and Eric try to do their best against each other," St. Joseph's coach Tim Kelly said. "Eric has learned he can't just blast the puck past Andrew. ... Andrew's positioning has really been helped by Eric's skills with the puck."
Kelly said Eric's shot is so hard he didn't need to be accurate early in high school, but facing his brother has helped him develop
Both are enjoying great success in their final high school season on the ice surface. The Crusaders have clinched a Western Massachusetts Division III-A tournament berth and await the seedings, which will be released on Saturday. It's the first time they will get a chance to play in the tournament.
Eric hit a career milestone by scoring his 100th career point in a contest against Taconic on Feb. 13th.
"That really means a lot to me," Eric said. "All four years, it's really been a goal for me in the back of my head."
Eric factored into all four goals in the win, while his brother held up his end of the bargain at the other end of the ice. Andrew was rock solid in net, stopping all 19 shots he faced.
"I kind of knew it was going to happen," Andrew said. "I'm very proud of him and happy for him. It's a great accomplishment."
The shutout was Andrew's third of the season. He finished up the regular season allowing just 25 goals on the year, with a 1.79 goals against average.
He missed two games with an early season injury, but faced 418 shots this year. He stopped 393 of them for a .940 save percentage. Four times this year he recorded 40 or more saves.
His numbers are tops in the Hennessy League this season. Facing the top goaltender day in and day out in practice has helped Eric develop into one of the premier scoring threats in the league.
"He covers the whole net and really moves side to side better than anyone," Eric said. "It's the biggest advantage for me because I face him daily. Then I get to go against goalies who aren't as good. It's a huge advantage for me in games."
Eric isn't the only brother who benefits from facing a top talent on a daily basis. This season, Eric has emerged as a top scorer. He has netted 25 goals and 8 assists. He seemingly always knows when to pass and when to shoot.
"He's just one of those players that makes you better," Andrew said. "He can score so many [different] ways, you need to learn to stop them."
While they play significantly different positions, there is one specific skill set they share. They both have fantastic speed, [erhaps one of the most overlooked qualities in a hockey player.
"[Andrew] has got quite a bit of speed," Kelly said. "Both his with his glove hand, his stick hand and his pads. He just utilizes the speed to help his positioning. It also really helps him make the saves.
"[Eric is] probably one of the fastest kids on our team. He utilizes that really well. He is able to really gain space by working around a defenseman as opposed to trying to go through them."
It's not just their play on the ice that allows them to stand out. Andrew was chosen by the Berkshire County officials to receive the Don Troy Sr. Memorial Sportsmanship Award for the 2012-2013 season. Kelly says it's a tribute to his ability to just worry about the next play.
"In my eyes, it's the most important award, never mind the MVP," said Andrew, who was named MVP of the league in his freshman season. "It shows class. That's definitely how we've been brought up, to show class and be a good sport. It's not just how you win, but how you lose too. It's really an important part of our game that our parents have taught us."
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