Brothers Adam and Matt Solari have flourished since joining forces on the Panthers’ first line.
Separated by three years, brothers Adam and Matt Solari had never taken the ice competitively together prior to this season.
You’d never know it.
The brothers form two-thirds (along with senior captain Chris Stoddard) of a dynamic top line for the Whitman-Hanson Regional High boys’ hockey, which after recording its best regular season in at least 15 years with a 15-5-1 record, has advanced to the quarterfinals of the Div. 2 South Sectional tournament, following an 8-2 win over Wareham/Carver on Tuesday.
Adam, a senior alternate captain, struck for a goal in the first-round victory, while Matt, a freshman, lit the lamp twice. Adam registered the assist on Matt’s first postseason goal. The two have wrought havoc on opponents together all year. Adam tallied 20 goals and 11 assists during the regular season en route to being named a Patriot League Keenan Division All-Star. Matt scored 14 times and recorded 14 assists.
“A lot of times, when lines in hockey have success, the ones that sustain themselves are because they stay unselfish, and I think that’s so evident with those guys,” said W-H boys’ hockey head coach Chris Googins. “They have different skill sets, but I think Matt is a great F1, which is the first forechecker, and he’ll find Adam the puck. Adam is a gifted goal scorer, and I think when Adam gets loose, he’ll try to find Matt. They use their skill set very well to find each other.”
However, they didn’t join forces until the sixth game of the season, when Googins bumped Matt up a line, as he searched for some offense.
“We shook it up and they’ve been together ever since,” the coach explained.
While the two had never suited up together until this winter, they still had plenty of practice with each other over the years.
“In the driveway, we would always play together,” Matt said.
Added Adam: “Especially when our friends came over, all we did was play hockey.”
Matt is the only freshman on the team.
“He’s a physical kid, he can skate well and he’s got a good hockey IQ,” Googins said. “That’s something you really can’t teach in three or four months or in a season. You have to have that, and he does.
“He is only going to get better. He is going to make the underclassmen and the upperclassmen work harder. He’s just going to elevate his other teammates’ play.”
Despite being a freshman, the younger Solari has aimed to be on the varsity team for the last few years.
“I always came to his (Adam’s) game,” Matt said. “I would see who was leaving to see if I could make the team.”
Adam admitted that he’s a little jealous of his younger brother.
“I wish I could have done that as a freshman,” he said with a laugh. “It’s wicked cool to see him lighting it up, though.”
But Matt gives his older brother a ton of credit for his success.
“He absolutely makes me a better player,” Matt said. “He does. He gives me advice, a lot of the time. Growing up, I would watch what he did and try to replicate it.”
Their athletic bond doesn’t end at the rink, though.
“He plays lacrosse too, which is pretty cool,” Adam said.
Pretty cool for them, but a nightmare for the rest of the Patriot League.
The Panthers return to the ice for the quarterfinal round on Saturday, Feb. 29.
“We don’t want to come up short again this year,” Adam said.
Said Matt: “I think it would be awesome if we could go to the Garden. That would be awesome.”