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HOCKEY: Big brother gets best of little brother as Country Day routs Royal Oak

Kosnik brothers face off in Saturday night battle at Lindell Arena

Hunter Kosnik (right) a junior defenseman at Detroit Country Day, and younger brother Clay, a freshman forward at Royal Oak High, faced off against each other on Saturday. The Yellowjackets beat Royal Oak, 7-1. (Special to The Daily Tribune/TOM WATTS)

ROYAL OAK – Mary Kosnik was proud of the way her sons Hunter and Clay prepared to face each other Saturday night when Royal Oak played host to Detroit Country Day in a high school hockey matchup.

“I could hear the boys at night talking about the game; I could hear them stick handling, playing around together,” Mary Kosnik said Saturday. “They both know it’s a game that involves hitting and I could hear Clay telling his brother, ‘but just don’t hit me too hard.’”

Big brother Hunter, a standout junior defenseman at Country Day, got the best of his little brother, Clay, a fabulous freshman forward for Royal Oak, as the Yellowjackets defeated the Ravens 7-1.

Zach Bensinger scored three goals and Austin Hickner added a pair on Saturday as Country Day improved to 14-2-2 overall.

Senior captain Trey Sobolewski scored the lone goal for the Ravens, who fell to 6-9-1 overall.

Still, the night belonged to the Kosnik boys, who played with passion as mom and dad, and about 25 family members and a boisterous student section showed up to cheer on a unique phenomenon in high school sports: Two brothers playing against each other.

Hunter, 16, a junior, transferred to Detroit Country this school year from Royal Oak High, while Clay, 14, is a freshman at Royal Oak.

“We were always talking about maybe playing with each other one day, but with the age difference we didn’t know if it would happen,” Clay said Saturday. “We had some arguments about who would win, so you can say it’s a sibling rivalry.”

Hunter was playing in just his second game with Country Day on Saturday and he warned his brother “I’m not going to take it easy on him.”

“It’s a competition thing,” Hunter said Saturday.

While Hunter and Clay (they also have a little brother, Drew) never played against each other on the ice until Saturday, instead the two brothers go at each other in the NHL 13 video game.

“And we have an open sheet of ice in our backyard and play together there,” Hunter said. “We both have a mutual interest in hockey.”

Mary Kosnik, the boys’ mother, said her mutual interest was hoping both her children did well on Saturday.

“I just want them to both do their best and have fun,” said Mary Kosnik, who was seated near the center red line with relatives and friends holding up signs. “It’s a big night.”

Jim Kosnik, the boys’ father, said Hunter and Clay both talked about the game all week.

“They’ve been trash-talking about it,” father Jim Kosnik said Saturday. ”I’m real proud. It’s awesome seeing this.”

Hunter Kosnik found himself in the penalty box for tripping on Saturday, but the Yellowjackets fought off the penalty. Defensively, Hunter was part of a winning formula.

“Hunter’s a big boost for our defense,” Country Day coach Frank Novock said Saturday. “He’s a vocal leader. He brings that well-rounded play to our defense.”

Novock said he sees a lot of brothers playing on the same team, but never playing against each other. “It’s a great sibling rivalry for them,” he said. “They’ll go toe-to-toe – no love lost – until after the game.”

Clay was feisty and hitting everyone in his way on Saturday. But it wasn’t until the third period when Hunter and Clay found themselves on the ice together. No checks, no collisions, no fights, but a lot of fun.

“It’s a pretty cool thing,” Royal Oak coach Craig Ward said. “Anytime you can play against family it’s going to be fun. Clay is all about working hard; he’s up and down the ice. He doesn’t stop.”

The Kosniks have been playing hockey since they were both 3 years old.

“We both started playing hockey right here at the Learn-to-Skate program at Lindell Ice Arena,” Clay said. “Hunter’s always played at a higher level because he's older than me, but that just always makes me want to get better.”

Said Hunter: “I’ve always try to be a good role model and good brother to him growing up.”

And the first round goes to big brother.

Last Updated: 1/27/2013 9:45:30 PM EST

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