From The Sherwood Park News
By Shane Jones
The Funke Brothers are jazzed about their reunion tour.
Not to be confused with the famed Motown backing band The Funk Brothers, the Funke’s are a pair of well-travelled Sherwood Park hockey players who are getting a chance to play together at the college level after only crossing competitive paths once before in their past.
Older brother Braedyn, a goalie, and younger sibling Connor, a forward, will be playing as teammates this season for Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
It has been a long and winding road for the Park pair, particularly for journeyman netminder Braedyn.
Now 23, Braedyn played up to Midget AA for the Sherwood Park Kings Club before leaving at 17 to play for the Coeur d’Alene Academy in Idaho. Only listing his significant stops, he went to Flin Flon to start his Junior hockey career, then to B.C. for a stint in Comox before signing with Osoyoos, where he would get to play with his brother for a month before dealing dealt to Fort St. John. He started out his college career at the University of Oklahoma and then transferred to a higher team at Indiana Tech last season.
“I think I realized when I was 14 how much I loved hockey and was starting to show some consistency in my game,” Braedyn said. “Once I got to Junior it got tougher because I think I got traded three times that first year. I got traded twice in my final year as well. I ended up with a large mix of experiences and teams and towns. I think as a result, now that I am in college, knowing what I like and what I don’t, it made it easier for me to decide where the right place was for me 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 moving up any level, even when you do it in Bantam,” he said. “You are excited when you commit, but it is work. You have to show up and be committed to the team and to the sport and to getting better. You have to prove you can play any time you move up. When you move up you come from a level where you are usually one of the better guys to going back to the bottom of the totem pole again. You are starting over. It is exciting, but it is work.”
Last year the Warriors were ranked the number 10 team in the ACHA and played in the national championships in St. Louis. The elder Funke made 10 starts and posted a 2.57 average, even earning a nod as WHAC Defensive Player of the Week last November.
Connor’s path was a lot more linear.
After an unsuccessful tryout with the local Crusaders, the recently-turned 21-year-old went to Osoyoos and played 13 games before he got traded to Golden, where he would remain for three years.
“Our team was talented, but very young,” he noted. “I had some personal success, scoring at about half a point per game and learned a lot about leadership as one of the older guys. The COVID years were tough, but they may have actually helped my development a little bit because our rink was able to stay open, but there was really no hockey going on. The ice was still available for us and I was living with six guys at our billet house and we would pack into the car early in the morning and skate every day.”
Connor was in the midst of trying to get a college to take him on when his brother’s endorsement got Indian Tech interested.
“I sent emails off to countless college coaches and Indiana Tech was interested and he was there so it just made sense to me,” he said. “It is super exciting. I have always dreamed of playing college hockey and being able to further my education and be able to get a scholarship for that, and to have a path for after hockey, it’s a pretty exciting thing to be able to fulfill one of my childhood dreams like that.”
The Sherwood siblings are very excited about getting a chance to be teammates for a much longer stretch this time.
“My brother is my best friend,” Braedyn said. “I can easily see us hanging out a lot. It is fun to be with him and we are excited that this time we can’t get traded away from each other. Hopefully this time it sticks.”
“It is really special to be able to do it with him,” Connor added. “I remember when we played together before, that was the most fun experience I have ever had playing hockey. It’s amazing being out there with someone you are so comfortable with. It’s not something many people get to do, to get to play with family like this.”
(Originally published at https://www.sherwoodparknews.com/sports/local-sports/sherwood-siblings-uniting-on-ice-at-indiana-tech)