Blazer brothers from a different mother
Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull and Adam Oates, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Chase Schaber and Brendan Ranford.
OK, so one of those pairings doesn’t fit, but the hockey bromance of Schaber and Ranford is heating up — and it’s producing on-ice results.
“We’re kind of like brothers,” said Ranford, a staple on the left wing beside centreman Schaber on the Blazers’ first line this season. “Obviously, we don’t have the same mother, but we became really tight this summer by working out with each other. It became kind of childish. We would always have sleepovers and stuff like that.”
Ranford’s right. The Blazers’ bosom buddies do not share a mother, but the dynamic duo were, in a way, separated shortly after birth.
“Our mothers are best friends and, when we were younger, we lived right across the street from each other when we were just babies in Red Deer,” Schaber said.
While the terrific twosome’s moms remained friends for the entirety of their son’s lives, Schaber and Ranford never established a relationship of their own.
Schaber, a member of the Calgary Hitmen from 2007 until January 2010, and Ranford, a Blazer since 2007, did train in the same Red Deer gym during off-seasons, but they weren’t on spotting-for-each-other terms just yet.
That step in their relationship came this summer, after almost half-a-season playing together in Kamloops.
“Every morning, we’d train together and we’d hang out together all the time, too,” Schaber said. “We basically spent the summer together. We clicked right away.”
Both Schabes and Ranz, as they’re known to their teammates, said they were hoping to play on a line this season, but they were ready for anything coach Guy Charron had planned.
As it turned out, Charron had pegged the two pals as potential linemates long before the puck dropped on opening day.
“They trained together this summer and they kind of bonded,” Charron said. “Sometimes, when you feel that two guys have a connection between themselves off the ice ,it can certainly reflect on the ice — and that’s how it’s worked out.”
Through nine WHL regular-season games this season, Ranford sits fifth in Western Conference scoring with seven goals and 13 points, while Schaber is in ninth spot with four goals and 12 points.
Ranford has assisted on three of Schaber’s four goals; Schaber on six of Ranford’s seven.
“When we did start playing together, it felt like we had known each other forever out there,” Ranford said.
Whether the chemistry that exists between the two puck buddies lasts deep into the season remains to be seen, but, if things do cool off, a lack of effort won’t be to blame, Schaber said.
“We come to the rink to work, we don’t take a night off, we don’t take a practice off and we make sure we’re always on top of our game.
“It’s one of those things where people say, “Hard work pays off,” and right now, there’s evidence of that showing. I’m really happy about it and we want to continue and be consistent.”
Dynamic duo + 1
Schaber and Ranford were asked who would be Batman and who would be Robin in their relationship.
“I’d say he would be Batman because he’s a little bit more vocal and he’s more of a leader,” Ranford said of Schaber.
“I could be like Robin and just kind of sneak up behind everybody.”
A hot start to the 2010-2011 WHL season will make it hard for Ranford to sneak up on opposing teams, but Schaber agreed with his linemate’s answer — in principal.
“I’d be Batman, for sure,” Schaber quipped. “I’m the man. He knows that.”
Forgotten in all the superhero talk was J.T. Barnett, the dynamic duo’s linemate.
However, Barnett, if he is something of a third-wheel, is a third wheel that churns out points.
The Arizona-born right-winger has three goals and seven points in nine games this season and his contribution to the early-season success of the Blazers’ first line has not gone undetected.
“When they put Barnett [on our line], he brought a lot,” Ranford said. “He calms us down and we have a lot of fun out there.”
Line nicknames are usually reserved for units that achieve long-term success, but there are two prime candidates, should the trio continue to turn out terrific performances.
“We call ourselves The Grease Line,” Ranford said. “We want to try and be greasy out there and get greasy goals. We try and pull our hair back during the starting lineups, too. We just like to have some fun out there.”
The second potential nickname is an offshoot of the first: The Trailer Park Boys.
“Yeah, it is a greasy line, even with Barnett on there. It’s basically like the Trailer Park Boys — Ricky, Julian and Bubbles — and those guys are greasy,” Schaber said.