Brotherly love will continue in playoffs

The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders practice Tuesday in preparation for their upcoming USHL playoff series.
The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders practice Tuesday in preparation for their upcoming USHL playoff series.

CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s not like there’s a no-contact order in place or anything. Jayson and Jaycob Megna are blood, after all.

The brothers will continue to communicate this week, even though their hockey teams are playing each other in the second round of the United States Hockey League playoffs.

“Oh, yeah. I just talked to him last night,” Jayson Megna said Tuesday. “We

 talked about how they were making the trip out here today and staying in a hotel here tonight ... This ought to be a pretty neat thing. It’s pretty rare, pretty special to play in the same league as your brother.”

And play in the same postseason series as your brother. It’s Jayson’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders against Jaycob’s Muskegon Lumberjacks in a best-of-5 set that begins tonight at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

Game 2 is Friday night at The Stable and Game 3 Saturday night in Michigan. It’s believed to be the first time in USHL history that brothers have opposed each other in the postseason.

“Jaycob and I tried to talk about every day during the season,” Jayson Megna said. “We’re pretty close, our whole family is pretty close. I talk to my mom and dad at least once every day. My brother, if not every day, then every other day. My sister, too. We’re a very close-knit family, my brother and I are really close, so this is special. I can’t wait to play them.”

The clubs played four times in the regular season, so this isn’t exactly a unique situation. Mom and dad (Jay and Jacky) witnessed them all, with sister, Jessica, coming home from college at Florida State to see a game.

The brothers, not quite three years apart in age (Jayson 21, Jaycob 18), attended prep school together in Massachusetts for a year and will play college hockey together beginning next year at Nebraska-Omaha. Jaycob is a 6-foot-5 defenseman and Jayson a 5-foot-11 center who led the Riders with 30 goals.

Jay Megna played two seasons in the National Football League. The family is from the Chicago suburbs.

“They don’t know how to handle it,” Jayson said of his parents. “I don’t think they really care who wins, they just hope that we both do well. I can’t speak for them, but I’m sure my mom is pretty nervous right now.”

Cedar Rapids and Muskegon went 2-1-1 against each other in the regular season, though they finished 36 points apart in the Eastern Conference standings. The RoughRiders won the Anderson Cup for most points in the league (90), while Muskegon finished fifth in the East.

The Lumberjacks, who led the USHL in penalty minutes, upended Team USA in a best-of-3 first-round playoff series. The Riders received a first-round bye and haven’t played in 11 days.

Will they be rusty?

“I think we’re ready to go,” said RoughRiders goalie Brady Hjelle, who set a USHL record with 40 regular-season victories. “It was a nice little rest period, then we hit it hard in practice for a week and got better as a team, I think. We had some tough practices. It almost felt like it was training camp all over again.”