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The Funke Brothers are thrilled with their reunion tour.

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Not to be confused with famed Motown backing band The Funk Brothers, the Funkes are a pair of well-traveled hockey players from Sherwood Park who are lucky enough to play together at the college level after only crossing the competition only once in their past.

Older brother Braedyn, a goaltender, and younger brother Connor, a forward, will play as teammates this season for Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

It’s been a long and winding road for Park’s pair, especially for keeper Braedyn.

Now 23, Braedyn played up to Midget AA for Sherwood Park Kings Club before leaving at 17 to play for Coeur d’Alene Academy in Idaho. Listing only his big stops, he went to Flin Flon to start his junior hockey career, then to British Columbia for a stint in Comox before signing with Osoyoos, where he would play with his brother for a month before dealing with Fort St. John. He started his college career at the University of Oklahoma, then moved to a top team at Indiana Tech last season.

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“I think I realized when I was 14 how much I loved hockey and I was starting to show some consistency in my game,” Braedyn said. “Once I got to Junior it got harder because I think I was traded three times that first year. I was traded twice in my senior year as well. I got traded found myself with a wide mix of backgrounds, teams, and cities. I think as a result, now that I’m in college, knowing what I like and what I don’t like, it makes me made it easier to decide where was the right place to go.

Braedyn says moving up to play for the Indiana Tech Warriors — an American College Hockey Association (ACHA) Division 1 team that plays in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference — was another challenge.

“It’s like climbing any level, even when you do it in bantam,” he said. “You get excited when you commit, but it’s work. You have to show up and commit to the team and the sport and improve. You have to prove that you can play every time you go up. When you go up , you come from a level where you’re usually one of the best guys to get back to the bottom of the totem. You start over. It’s exciting, but it’s work.

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Last year, the Warriors were ranked No. 10 on the ACHA team and played at the nationals in St. Louis. The elder Funke made 10 starts and posted a 2.57 GAA, even earning a WHAC Defensive Player of the Week nomination last November.

Connor’s path was much more linear.

After an unsuccessful tryout with the local Crusaders, the 21-year-old traveled to Osoyoos and played 13 games before being traded to Golden, where he will remain for three years.

“Our team was talented, but very young,” he noted. “I had some personal success, scoring around half a point a game and learned a lot about leadership as one of the older guys. The COVID years were tough, but maybe they helped my development a bit because our rink was able to stay open, but there was really no hockey. The ice was always available for us and I lived with six guys in our box office and we packed in the car early in the morning and skated every day.

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Braedyn Funke made 10 starts for the Indiana Tech Warriors last season.  Photo provided
Braedyn Funke made 10 starts for the Indiana Tech Warriors last season. Photo provided

Connor was trying to find a university to host him when his brother’s endorsement sparked interest from Indian Tech.

“I emailed countless college coaches and Indiana Tech was interested and he was there, so it made sense to me,” he said. “It’s super exciting. It’s always been my dream to play college hockey and to be able to further my education and get a scholarship for that, and to have a path after hockey, it’s a pretty exciting thing to to be able to make one of my childhood dreams come true like this.”

The Sherwood siblings are very excited to have the chance to be teammates for much longer this time around.

“My brother is my best friend,” Braedyn said. “I can easily see us hanging out a lot. It’s fun to be with him and we’re glad that this time we can’t be traded for each other. Hopefully this time it sticks.

“It’s really special to be able to do it with him,” added Connor. “I remember when we played together before, it was the most fun experience I’ve ever had playing hockey. It’s amazing to be there with someone you’re so comfortable with. It’s not something a lot of people can do, play with their family like that. »

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