Jeffrey (left) and Christian (right) Davis, on the ice immediately after the very exciting overtime 1-1 tie recently between the two rival schools. Handout photo.
As cousins growing up, Christian and Jeff Davis did everything together.
They were always in the same class at Blessed Sacrament in West Toledo, they always played on the same sports teams, and they were always sleeping over at each other's house.
Even their favorite sport was the same - hockey - and the two also played the same position - goalie.
So imagine the feeling Christian, a junior goaltender for St. John's Jesuit, had looking across the ice during a game against St. Francis de Sales in December at a holiday tournament at the Bowling Green State University Ice Arena and seeing Jeff in goal for the Knights.
"It was a little strange," Christian said.
For Jeff, who didn't even find out he would be starting until shortly before the puck dropped, the feeling was mutual.
"I was kind of nervous at first, when I first found out," said Jeff, also a junior. "I tried not to focus on [the fact that] it was him across the ice."
The Titans prevailed 7-2 that night over a shorthanded St. Francis team, with Jeff in goal the entire game.
"He saw a lot of shots that night and made a lot of really good saves," Christian said, "but I know it was still tough for him."
Adding to the awkward factor even more, the pair had to attend their annual family reunion right after the game. So instead of getting to cool off after such an intense, pressure-filled encounter, the two had to come face-to-face and interact like it was just another family get-together.
"Let's just say there wasn't a whole lot of smack-talking going on that night," Christian said.
The cousins' next meeting, however, had a much different, if not fairer, ending. The Knights and Titans clashed again with both in goal in a Northwest Hockey Conference matchup on Jan. 31, and the game finished in a 1-1 tie.
"Both the boys probably wish they would have gotten the win," said Lynn Davis, Christian's mom and Jeff's aunt, "but as a parent, 1-1 was the perfect ending. It was a lot of fun for them. The boys weren't nervous at all. They were actually waving to each other during the game."
But sitting together in the stands, both families were constantly on their edge of their seats.
"It's hard because it's hard to cheer," Lynn added. "I did actually cheer when Jeff made a good save, but it was pretty nerve-racking."
Round 3 of the Davis' showdown could be the most contentious yet, as the possibility exists of St. Francis and St. John's facing off in the state tournament later this month.
If that ends up being the case, both Christian and Jeff said they welcome the challenge.
"Knowing him so well, I'm sure I can speak for Jeff when I say we both love the pressure of playing against each other," Christian said. "I'd love to see a St. John's-St. Francis matchup deep in the playoffs. It's not the easiest path to the state championship, but it'd be the most entertaining and fun to watch."
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