This is the Google era for teenage scholars, which includes Dougie Hamilton, a towering defensive candidate for Canada’s world junior team.
Hamilton won the Bobby Smith Trophy as the 2011 OHL scholastic player of the year, attending Governor Simcoe Secondary School in St. Catherines, Ont. It wasn’t a fluke either – the previous year, Hamilton followed in the footsteps of brainy older brother Freddie and won the Ivan Tennant Memorial Award, as the OHL’s top academic high-school player.
Apart from their considerable hockey playing skills, the Hamilton boys are sharp – and nobody knows that better than fellow Niagara IceDogs teammate Mark Visentin, who calls them the “two smartest people I have ever met, school-wise.”
“I’m used to them stealing the academic player of the month award,” Visentin, a decent student in his own right, said with a laugh. “Back when I was in high school, I’d have an 82 or an 85 average and they’d steal it with their 99s.”
Thus far, the Hamiltons have resisted the temptation to research – on Google.com or elsewhere – the Moller brothers, Randy and Mike, though that could change, depending upon what unfolds in the next two days.
The Hamiltons are two of 42 players trying out for Canada’s 2012 world junior team. If both make it, they will become the national squad’s first brother act at the tournament in 30 years – since the Mollers in 1982.
The Hamiltons are from a family of high achievers, academically and athletically. Doug Sr. was an Olympic rower for Canada and won a bronze medal at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles; Lynn played for the national women’s basketball team at the same Olympics.
But the parents provided the boys with more than just a favourable gene pool.
“They always stressed to us to have fun and do your best and do what you love,” Dougie Hamilton said. “They never pressured us into playing hockey. We played pretty much every sport growing up. There came a time when we decided we wanted to play hockey. My dad played one year of house league when he was a kid and my mom never played, so it’s not really like we have a hockey background.
“But with both my parents being athletes and representing Canada, it makes you realize that your dreams can come true – because it’s right in front of you, that example.”
Freddie is the older brother by almost 18 months; and was born on New Year’s Day, 1992, making him eligible for the tournament by the skin of his teeth.
He says the two of them got along pretty well for brothers, noting: “We’ve always been best friends growing up. We got into a few fights, growing up, but nothing too serious. Neither of us liked getting hurt. He wasn’t always bigger, he really had a growth spurt a few years ago. I don’t know if I’d mess with him now. I should have taken advantage when I had the chance.”
Toronto Maple Leafs fans already know about the younger Hamilton. Dougie is the player the Boston Bruins selected with the No. 9 pick in the 2011 NHL draft, the other first-rounder (after Tyler Seguin in 2010) acquired from the Leafs in the Phil Kessel trade.
With no returnees on defence from last year’s team, he projects as a top-four defenceman on the Canadian year’s team – and recently signed an entry-level contract with the Bruins.
Freddie was the 129th player chosen in the 2010 draft and signed with the San Jose Sharks in May. He is one of six natural centres vying for four (or possibly five) places on the junior roster. His advantage is a sound all-around game, which makes him an attractive candidate on a team, head coach Don Hay says, that demands versatility.
“I think a scorer’s got to check and a checker’s got to score,” Hay said.
And if all goes well this week, and on Wednesday morning, when the final roster is named and the Hamiltons are both in? They may well try to learn about the Mollers and how everything unfolded 30 years ago.
“I haven’t Googled them yet,” Dougie Hamilton said, “but I heard a lot about them in the summer. I’m pretty aware now of who they are.”