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Ivey brothers' next chapter includes commitment to Army West Point

By Chris Bayee, 09/07/23, 2:30PM PDT


Former Jr. Gulls Jack and Ben Ivey committed to play Division I hockey at Army West Point starting in 2024. Photo courtesy of Lauren Correa and the Amarillo Wranglers

The Ivey brothers' tag team will continue for a third level of hockey.

Twins Ben and Jack Ivey, who played two seasons of 12U AAA hockey for San Diego Jr. Gulls, not only have been able to play junior hockey together, but earlier this year they accomplished the rare feat of committing to play Division I college hockey at Army West Point together. 

"We hoped it could happen, but it was a stretch, especially after we didn't have a lot of interest after 16s," Ben said. "It's difficult to find two forward spots because college rosters are so tight.

"We're grateful Army wanted to bring us both in."

The Iveys again will play this season for the Amarillo Wranglers of the North American Hockey League. Ben will serve as the team's captain. 

A weighty decision

The commitment to a U.S. service academy carries some added weight because it will require at least a five-year military commitment upon graduation. That was a serious consideration, the brothers said. 

"We were pretty uneasy at first about the military commitment," Ben said. "However, we have four members of our (extended) family who have served in the Army (including both grandfathers). We talked it over with our parents (Lee and Dana) and ultimately they signed off. The more we talked about it, the more exciting it was."

Added Jack, "When we went on our visit, we had no idea of the magnitude of the place. The alumni programs and seeing the campus sold it. It was so beautiful. It looked like castles."

The U.S. Military Academy, as West Point is formally known, opened in 1802, making it America's oldest military academy.

Although there could be opportunities to play pro hockey after college, this was a decision Ben and Jack made with the longer game in mind.

"It's more about the academics than anything," Ben said. "You're setting yourself up for life."

The brothers, who are 2004 birth years, also played for the Jr. Ducks from 13AAA through 16AAA. 

The Iveys signed with Wenatchee, then of the British Columbia Hockey League, in 2021 at age 16. After one season, they relocated from Washington State to Amarillo, Texas.

"We were very fortunate to come to Amarillo together," Ben said.

Their games took off during 2022-23. Ben had 46 points and 18 goals in 60 regular-season games, while Jack chipped in 27 points, including 12 goals, while also playing in every game. Those were massive leaps from their production in Wenatchee (10 and 8 points, respectively), and the duo will be counted on to play bigger roles this coming season.

They prepared by skating with several former Jr. Gulls players over the summer, including Swiss pro Tyler Moy, Minnesota State forward Josh Groll and a trio of University of Denver players, Sam Harris and Shai and Zeev Buium.  

Getting on the recruiting radar

At this time last year, the Iveys weren't sure at what level hockey would continue beyond juniors. They had casual conversations with a few D-I schools but no concrete offers emerged.

An Army coach came to Amarillo to scout defenseman Pierce Patterson and came away intrigued by the Iveys' combination of skill and size (Ben is 6-foot-4 and Jack is 6-3). All three Wranglers went on a recruiting trip, and all three ultimately committed to the Black Knights.

When the Iveys join the Atlantic Hockey program for the 2024-25 school year they'll see a familiar face or two in the league. Former Jr. Ducks teammate Kyle Isenberg is an Air Force commit. The defenseman, who will play in the same NAHL division as the Iveys this season as a member of Lone Star, said Army is getting a cross-section of skills with the brothers.

"Ben is more of the shooter, while Jack is the set-up man," Isenberg said. "They're two really big bodies who are hard to defend because they have such long reaches. Both are pretty solid defensively."

Their playing styles aren't the only contrast.

"Ben is the more vocal of the two, while Jack likes to lead by example," Isenberg added.

All three played in a summer 3-on-3 league in Southern California. Given the intense nature of service academy rivalries, was there any trash talk exchanged?

"Very little," Isenberg said, with a chuckle. "We're saving it for the next four years."