Building A Family 01

BYU defenseman Jared Gantt kneels in prayer with his teammates after winning their game against Montana State on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 at Peaks Ice Arena in Provo. BYU defeated Montana state 7-5. SAMMY JO HESTER, The Daily Herald

PROVO -- As Brigham Young University men's hockey coach Ed Gantt took to the ice Friday night, he had winning on his mind.

Gantt spent 10 years building the club hockey program from 1998 until 2008 before leaving his coaching position for an opportunity to coach his son's 16-and-under AA youth team.

Now he is back coaching the Cougars in hopes of putting BYU back on the map. This time, however, he isn't the only Gantt to take the ice with the team. 

"The team has been struggling for a few years," Ed said. "Mark [his son] was on the team, and I was already always at the games and I thought I could help." 

For the Gantt family, hockey has truly become a family affair. This semester, Mark, a goalie, was joined on the roster by two of his brothers: Jared, a defender, and Ben, who plays center.

During the games their mother and Ed's wife, Anita, also helps with scorekeeping. 

"My family is really supportive. We are very good at switching between roles," Mark said. "When we are home he is my dad, and when we are home they are my brothers. And when we are here he is my coach, and when we are on the ice they are my teammates."

Though their father also happens to be their coach, the Gantt brothers can agree on one thing: There is no favoritism. 

"He is always riding us pretty hard, and does a lot to make sure we don't get any sort of special treatment," Jared said. "But having family here means always having more motivation to push harder." 

For Ed Gantt, coaching all three of his sons on the BYU team is a dream come true. 

"Having them here, it means everything to me," he said. "Each of those boys will say that their dream growing up was to play for this team and to play for me and be on this team, and I would say the same thing, that my dream was for them to all play for this team and play for me.

"I'm not sure how it happened, but it's all been very miraculous." 

Ed Gantt is not only the head coach for BYU's hockey team, but he is also an associate professor of psychology at the school. He also recently was called to be a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Ask him why he wishes to maintain his schedule, and he will share a story about his father-in-law. 

When Ed Gantt's father-in-law had his children, he had some property and began building a house with them on the weekends. After the youngest son left for his LDS Church mission, they stopped working on the house and it became a storage space. 

Someone once asked Anita Gantt why her father would spend all of that time building a house just to let it sit there unfinished? 

"I piped up and said, 'because he wasn't building a house. He was building a family,'" Ed Gantt said. "That is what hockey has been for us. It is the way we built our family.

"I spend a lot more time with my sons than most fathers ever get to. And at least when I was yelling at them it was to make them better." 

Though the Gantts may be the only biological family members on the team, the team itself has become a family because of another mutual passion -- the gospel. 

Before the start of every game the teammates pray together in the locker room, and on bus rides to away games they share scriptures. They have even had members of their team receive priesthood blessings in the locker room after obtaining an injury. 

"There's different expectations here," Ben Gantt said.  "We try to keep each other in line. We all know there is more to life than hockey.

"It is kinda like having an extra 20 brothers who always have your back, always watch out for you and always care for you."

The team displayed its true colors of brotherhood Friday evening by honoring fallen teammate Jaxon Logan, who died 10 years ago during a game.

On Jan. 21, 2005, the Provo Icecats held a six-goal lead against the University of Northern Colorado. Logan blocked a slapshot from a defenseman, the puck hitting him in the chest, injuring his heart and causing a rare injury called commotio cordis.

The blow to the chest caused a heart arrhythmia, cardiac arrest and, finally, death. 

After the shot hit Logan in the chest, the puck bounced to the stick of Brett Fuller, who connected with Jeremy Weiss for a goal. The crowd erupted into cheers, and Logan was credited with the assist. 

Ten years later, the game that marked the anniversary of Logan's death also marked the Cougars' first win of the season.

In true fashion of their brotherhood, after their win against Montana State, the players kneeled together in a prayer of thanks for their victory, and dedicated their win to Logan. 

Sammy Jo Hester is the Photo Editor at the Daily Herald.

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