HELENA — If you’ve ever made it out to Steed Arena to try and catch the NA3HL top-ranked Helena Bighorns (29-2), then you’ve probably already heard of the Cunningham connection of Camden, Braden and Dylan.
On Wednesday, MTN Sports sat down behind the bench with the Cunningham twins as well as their older cousin, NA3HL defenseman Dylan, as they look ahead to playing together on the ice once again.
“They’ve never been smart enough to really team up until they started playing junior hockey together. It’s always been them against each other, and now they're finally learning that (they are) stronger together," said Dylan.
These Helena hometown heroes have been able to utilize their time together over the previous year and a half to build what they refer to as 'a very special bond.'
“It was weird at the beginning (with Dylan, but) I feel like on the ice, the plays just come easy. It’s special obviously, like, I’ve been playing with my brother my entire life, and this year — it’s pretty special as well," mentioned the older brother, Camden.
Special, extraordinary, unique and exceptional were all words that came up when trying to describe this family’s unique bloodline.
“It's a friendship for life," added Braden.
"Pretty special. Like Camden said, me and Cam have a special chemistry together, I feel like I know where he’s at all the time, and then Dylan, same thing. I feel like I can make a play and know that he’s going to be there — and it comes together nicely in our game(s)," he said.
Older by only one minute, Camden believes he shares some sort of special telepathy with his twin brother.
"Honestly, I think we do. ... Straight up, it's awesome. (We) support each other's backs, and that goes for all of the teammates on this hockey team," said Camden.
Growing up in the Capital City, the Cunninghams never thought they would be playing on the same junior hockey team together, although the eldest of the Cunningham brother’s, Nolan, who currently plays NCAA Division I hockey for the Air Force Falcons actually played for the Bighorns when their father, Scott Cunningham, was still coaching.
Third-year head man Damon Hanson has taken the Helena Bighorns to the NA3HL national tournament during his first two years at the helm and has plans to bring a championship home this season. He had this to say about the Cunninghams.
"Watching them as little, young kids playing youth hockey here in Helena, Montana, and now getting to be on the same bench as all of three of them is pretty special for myself," said Hanson. “They’re the full package, they got the skill, (they) got the grit, they can see the ice very well, and they will stick up for their own."
A group of jesters, all three Cunninghams know when to be serious, they know when to have fun, which is a huge reason why they’ve been so successful since joining the team.
“We all sit together in the locker room. I mean, that’s where a lot of it comes in, we joke around and play around a lot in there, but once we get on the ice, we're all more serious," added Dylan Cunningham, who has hopes to coach hockey one day in the future.
Dylan, the twins, and the rest of the Helena Bighorns hope to continue that success this weekend versus the Butte Fighting Irish as they look to reach 30 wins on the young season.
This will be the last year that you'll be able to see all three Cunningham's skating on the Bighorns ice together.
"It's amazing, getting ready to hop on the ice with them, it's just special," said Braden Cunningham.