LONDON, Ontario | Matt and Ryan Rupert are both 5-foot-9. Matt is just 178 pounds, while his twin 17-year-old brother tips the scales at 186.
That these brothers play together for the London Knights isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but their similarities to a couple elders is what makes the Ruperts intriguing on and off the ice.
Think of them as little Hunters, like their old coach Dale and their general manager and new coach Mark. They forecheck and grind in the corners like the Hunters did in their playing days, more than compensating for their lack of height.
“They’re tough and they got skill,” Dale Hunter said. “It’s one of those things where we know they’re feisty and they want to win and they stick up for their teammates.”
Anything like you, Dale? Hunter smiled.
“They’re hungry,” he said. “They’re real hungry.”
They also live at Dale Hunter’s house in London, and when Matt and Ryan Rupert were hungry in the mornings, he would wake up and make them eggs at 7 a.m. He always asked them who made the best eggs and joked, “Remember, I’m your coach.”
With Hunter coaching the Washington Capitals, his girlfriend, Cindy Mac Kinlay, watches after them. When he was in London, he taught the young players everything he knew about the game.
“He was a good role model for us. We’d sit and watch some games and he’d rewind the plays and tell us what they did wrong and what they did good,” Ryan Rupert said. “That made us better here.”
The Rupert brothers don’t mind the comparisons to the Hunter brothers, either.
“They’re great hockey players and we kind of pattern their style: grind out, gritty and don’t back down for anything and also put the puck in the net sometimes,” Ryan Rupert said.
Ryan Rupert has 17 goals and 31 assists in 63 games; Matt has 12 goals and 23 assists in 48 games. Often they play together, but they don’t want to be compared to Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
Dale Hunter, though? Sure.
“We watch his videos on YouTube sometimes and just try and play like him,” Matt Rupert said. “Just get hard on the forecheck; that’s what he did and be gritty like he did and try to follow his footsteps.”