California Rubber

California’s and Nevada’s Authoritative Voice of Hockey

Russell twins following same NCAA D-I path with dual commitment to Holy Cross


As a kid, I had the amazing experience of playing on the same team as my older (much older) brother for a few years. Of course, I had to use all his old equipment, and to save even more money our father insisted we take all of our team pictures…together, side by side.

So, when I heard about the Russell boys, a flood of memories came back.

However, not only are Hayden and Garrett brothers, they are twins who have spent their entire hockey careers on the same teams (Anaheim Ducks, California Golden Bears, Los Angeles Jr. Kings).

Over the years, many had told them that the day would soon come when they would inevitably be split up. That day still has not arrived. When it was time to evaluate the prep school route, and many of their talented teammates were leaving California, their family made the decision to keep the boys local. At the time, Hayden and Garrett felt a little FOMO as their friends moved faraway to be compete at the highest levels back East and in Canada.

However, staying home paid off as they joined the 15O AAA Jr. Kings and won the national championship. Their stellar performances garnered the attention of the Holy Cross Crusaders of Worcester, Mass., and they were both soon offered Division I scholarships.

I share this story as it reveals yet another path for our local athletes as they evaluate their next steps. As their father told me of the decision to stay close to home, they had to stop, take a deep breath, and shut out all the noise of what everybody else was doing. This pause gave them time to really assess all options which were best for the family (not just the athlete). In this case, staying local made sense, as many talented players (and a former Bears) formed a team that took home the biggest banner on the national stage!

As we know, big banners get big attention, and it was during this run that Hayden and Garrett got the exposure they worked so hard for. They are driven, focused, and quite frankly, just down to earth guys. I interviewed them separately as both had their own unique voice and perspective. A classic brotherly moment occurred when Garrett, perfect timing, Zoom-bombed Hayden, over his shoulder, peeking into his room half-way through our interview. On purpose? We will never know. But Hayden, such a pro, was able to keep on point.

It’s clear these Russell boys will be just fine come media day!

Why hockey? (TEN WORDS OR LESS)

Hayden: Hockey builds character, work ethic, the fastest, hardest team sport.

Garrett: Hockey teaches lifelong skills like hard work and perseverance.

When did you start playing? Who inspired you?

Hayden: I started skating when I was 2 years old then began playing organized games when I was 4 years old. My parents inspired me to play.

Garrett: I started playing hockey when I was two years old. My dad inspired me to play.

Years at the Bears? Best Bear Memory?

Hayden: I played one year for the Bears, and my best Bear memory was winning the Pacific District Championship and moving on to Nationals.

Garrett: I spent one year with the bears and my favorite memory is winning the Pacific District and advancing to Nationals.

Nickname among your hockey friends?

Hayden: Russ

Garrett: G-Rus

Which coach/mentor/role model stays with you, to this day, in the back of your mind? How did they elevate your game?

Hayden: Peter Torsson has been and still is a coach, and mentor that stays with me to this day. Peter had me think the game beyond the x’s and o’s which built my hockey IQ and the reasonings behind plays.

Garrett: Peter Torsson will always be a coach that helped elevate my game. He believed in me and helped me to see the game in a smarter way.

How did you balance studying, practice, and lots of missed school days?

Hayden: The way that I balanced studying, missing lots of school days, and playing hockey was time management, communication, and hard work. The advice I have for the classroom is to make sure you communicate a ton with your teachers, by sending them the days you will be gone and building a relationship with them over the school year.

Garrett: I balance all my school and hockey by always working with my teachers and never falling too far behind.

Which exercise gives you the biggest advantage on the ice?

Hayden: The exercise that gave me and our Bears team the biggest advantage on the ice was our off-ice workouts and conditioning. Peter pushed our team past our limits, and we knew that working harder than the other teams would pay off when it really mattered.

Garrett: I think just straight up conditioning has given me the biggest advantage on the ice.

Where are you playing now and how did you get there?

Hayden: Last year I played for the Jr. Kings 15O AAA team which won nationals. Now I am playing with the 16 AAA Kings team. The way that I got here was by staying in California and not worrying about leaving for prep school, but by developing at home.

Garrett: I am now playing on the 16 AAA Kings team. I joined the Kings one year ago after my 14’s year at the Bears.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hayden: In 10 years, I will be 26, and I think I see myself hopefully playing pro hockey just a few years out of playing college hockey.

Garrett: Hopeful still playing hockey.

Who would win in a hockey fight, Connor McGregor (on skates) vs. Bob Probert?

Hayden: Without a question, Bob Probert would win because he is on ice and has way better balance.

Garrett: 100% Bob Probert.

Best celebrity sighting at Pickwick Ice in Burbank? If not at Pickwick, any other rink in L.A.?

Hayden: When I am at the rink, I see a lot of NHL players coming in and out of the rink, the players I see most frequently would probably be Anze Kopitar.

Garrett: Teemu Selanne.

 The longest drive you/parents made for a hockey game?

Hayden: The longest drive we have made for a hockey game would be for a tournament in Arizona.

Garrett: The longest drive was driving up to San Jose.

Favorite hockey slang that confuses your civilian friends?

Hayden: Lettuce

Garrett: Dust

You have a Bears Time Machine (patent pending), you fly back to your first day of Mites, what advice would you give yourself?

Hayden: If I had a Bears time machine and I could fly back to my first day of mites the advice I would give myself is skating is the most important thing to work on when you are young. Also, to make sure to enjoy every moment of it even when it’s hard.

Garrett: To try my best to go to every practice and game with intention.

Look at your phone, what is the very last song you listened to? Be honest! No reason or apology necessary (we all have that one song).

Hayden: Tennessee Whiskey

Garrett: Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang.

Any real-world experience that made you think “Yes, that’s just like in hockey.”  What did you learn from your hockey life, which has helped you in the real world (school, job, friendships)?

Hayden: I have learned lots of things from my hockey life that have helped me in the real world. Skills in particular would be teamwork, leadership, and effort. In school, jobs, and friendships when you are able to apply these traits you are destined for success.

Garrett: Sometimes the more skilled team doesn’t always win.

Photo/James Russell

— John Harrington

(December 11, 2023)

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