METHUEN — At first glance, few would guess Dylan Yameen and Nick Yameen are brothers, let alone two thirds of triplets.
“We look nothing alike,” joked Dylan, the more outspoken of the two. “Most people don’t even think we are related.”
The differences only grow greater as they step onto the ice, one a slick-skating, hard hitting defenseman and the other a gritty, grind-it-out forward that relies on toughness.
But since childhood the Yameen brothers have shared an intense passion for hockey, and for the last four years they have each been cornerstones of the Methuen High School hockey program, with both becoming captains this season.
“It seems like there is always a Yameen on the ice for us,” said Rangers coach Denny Egan. “For the past four years they have each been tremendous members of this team, and now they have become not just great hockey players but excellent captains.”
As freshmen three seasons ago, both Yameen brothers won starting jobs on the Methuen hockey team — Nick at forward and Dylan on defense — and ever since they have been stalwarts at those positions.
“It’s been a great run,” said Nick Yameen, who also has a sister named Gabrielle. “We have always loved hockey. We are proud to have played for Methuen for four years, and I love playing with my brother. Whenever one of us gets in trouble, we always know the other one has his back.”
Through six games this season, each Yameen has notched a team-high three goals for the Rangers, who are 2-2-2.
“My wife and I have gotten the greatest enjoyment out of watching them play hockey together,” said father George Yameen. “It’s very emotional that it is coming to an end. They have always supported one another and work together so well on the ice.”
George, a former Merrimack Valley Conference All-Star hockey player at Lawrence High, wasted no time introducing his sons to the ice. Both were skating at 3-years-old, and they were quickly in love with hockey.
“You could tell they loved it and were both very good players,” said George, who also coached his sons through most of their youth careers. “They were always on the top teams. But they were also very different. Dylan was the goal-scorer back then. He is probably the more skilled, quicker player. Nick was a defenseman then. He is a grinder. He is great at forechecking and backchecking and setting players up.”
When the brothers arrived at Methuen High for the 2010-11 season, they immediately impressed Egan and his coaching staff, but with one tweak. Dylan would now be playing defense and Nick would be playing forward.
“We were willing to do whatever coach asked us to make the team better,” said Dylan. “It took some work but it went well. It was great for Nick. He plays the body well. He’s the team’s sparkplug.”
Both were listed on the top line for their first high school game, but for Nick the butterflies were wreaking havoc in his stomach, until the third period of that season-opener.
“In my first game I scored my first varsity goal,” said Nick, who scored four goals and added seven assists that season. “That was when I knew I could compete with this tough competition. It was tough (being a freshman) on varsity, but it was also a lot of fun. Not many have the chance to do that, and we were playing against kids four years older than us. But with skill and a little luck we had good years.”
The following season, the Yameens helped the Rangers to a 10-8-3 record and their first trip to the state tourney in 10 years. Dylan even tallied his first career goal in Methuen’s tourney win over Somerville.
The two continued to stand out last season, with Nick scoring six goals and seven assists, playing alongside four-time Eagle-Tribune All-Star Matt Bauchman for the third straight season, while Dylan paced the defense.
Following that season, both Yameen brothers were named captains for the 2013-14 season.
“It’s really an honor being a leader and a captain now,” said Dylan. “I have always worked hard to set the right example on the ice and off.
“It’s also great to be a captain next to my brother. It’s always been interesting playing hockey with him, but it has been fun. Sure we compete. We try to see who can shoot harder and who can hit harder. But we have a great chemistry on the ice. We always know where the other one is out there. He is my best friend.”
That chemistry has been on display this season. The brothers have combined for five goals in the Rangers’ two victories.
“It seems like they have set each other up for just about every goal,” said George. “There isn’t a huge rivalry between the two, but they are extremely competitive against opponents. ”
This season appears to be the end of the line for the two brothers. Dylan is planning to continue his hockey career in prep school, his first choice being Bridgton Academy, while Nick is looking to focus on college. So they are hoping to make some special memories before the season ends.
“We want to win some games and make the state tournament again,” said Dylan. “Coach (Egan) said we could shave his head if we make it. But we also want to teach the kids and enjoy a last season together.”