Phil and Amanda Kessel form America's First Family of Hockey. Sports Illustrated put together an amazing feature on the Kessels, who SI calls the faces of U.S. ice hockey.
The dynamic duo grew up in Madison, Wisconsin before crossing the border to play college hockey at the University of Minnesota. Phil dominated for the Gophers for one season (2005-06), scoring 18 goals while adding 33 assists in 39 games. Amanda is still enrolled as a student-athlete at the U of M, but she took this year off to play on the U.S. Women's National Team and prepare for the Olympics. Last year, she piled up 101 points to help lead the Gophers to a second consecutive national championship.
Amanda says her favorite NHL team is whatever one her brother is playing on, which will be the Toronto Maple Leafs for the next eight years.
Both Kessels are now playing – and playing well – for Team USA. Phil recorded a hat trick to lead the Americans to a win over Slovenia last weekend. His little sister has been just as dominant for the women.
"To have two siblings in the same Olympics representing their country, is pretty incredible," said Tony Granato, who played for Team USA in the 1988 Calgary Olympics. "But they're not just players. They are two world-class players. Period."
Part of the reason they are as talented as they are is because of their competitive nature. There was always a winner and a loser growing up competing against each other.
It started with games of mini-sticks in the basement, which Kathy eventually banned within the family because the games always seemed to end in fights. Then there were ping-pong tournaments, one of which ended in a middle-of-the-night meltdown when one of Phil's friends couldn't take the heat of competition. Pick-up games of hockey with buddies weren't too bad, when compared to the annual family game that the Kessel kids played on Christmas afternoon with their cousins and uncles. The three were never on the same team, so that often meant tempers would flare. Phil and Blake once got into a tussle, prompting Phil Sr. to skitter out in his boots to separate his boys. And Amanda knew that winning always came with a price.
That price will be worth it if Amanda and the U.S. women defeat Canada in the gold medal on Thursday. Phil and the American men are the No. 2 seed, just three wins from gold.