The summer of Suzuki


Nick and Ryan Suzuki hate losing – especially to each other.

The brothers are competitive in everything they do, from video games to
ping pong to hockey.

“I think we have always had a good relationship,” says Nick, 21 months
older than little brother Ryan. “Ever since we were little, we have been
playing road hockey, mini sticks in the basement and we are both pretty
competitive. We like to challenge each other and beat each other. We’ve
always had that competitive relationship, but I think as we’ve grown older,
we are closer and have respect for each other.”

For the Suzukis, Dec. 14 has probably already been circled on their
calendars – the first Ontario Hockey League showdown for family bragging
rights. That will be the first time Nick and his Owen Sound Attack take on
Ryan and the Barrie Colts.

“I don’t know if he is a guy you want to go up against, but it will be
pretty exciting playing against him for the first time,” said Ryan. “It
will be special having our family there. Hopefully he doesn’t score too
much on us.”

Despite their competitive nature, the London, Ont., brothers are each
other’s biggest supporters. When Ryan was drafted first overall by Barrie
in the OHL Priority Selection in April, Nick – the 14th pick two years ago
– was on his way to Sault Ste. Marie for a playoff game, but was excited
and proud of his brother.

“It has been pretty special to see him grow up and become a good hockey
player,” said Nick. “When I learned he was going to get picked first
overall in the OHL I was pretty proud of him. He puts in a lot of work into
getting better and I look forward to playing against him.”

The pride went both ways this summer in Chicago as Ryan watched Nick reach
a major goal of his, getting drafted 13th overall by the Vegas Golden
Knights in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

“It was awesome to see him get one step closer to his dream of playing in
the NHL,” said Nick. “Seeing him go up there on stage and realizing that in
two years, I could have the same opportunity, it gave me a bit more
motivation to keep working hard to make my dreams come true.”

Growing up, Ryan and Nick spent their Christmas holiday watching the IIHF
World Junior Championship, all while fantasizing of the day they would
hopefully play for Canada in the same tournament.

While Nick is chasing that fantasy this summer, Ryan is starting his own
Hockey Canada journey.

Nick wore the Maple Leaf with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team
at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup last August, and earned himself a spot at
Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp, with his
sights set on the World Juniors in Buffalo this December.

“Any opportunity you get to represent your country at any level is a big
honour,” said Nick. “I think this experience will be great and a lot of
fun. I know quite of few of the guys at camp and I am just going to play my

Not to be outdone, Ryan headed to Calgary last week as one of the 111
players invited to Canada’s national under-17 development camp, the first
step in the Program of Excellence.

“He told me it was going to be a tough and grueling week, but he said to
keep working hard and show the coaches what I can do,” Ryan says of his
brother’s U17 advice. “He told me to drink a lot of water and take in this
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The brothers share a few similarities in their game, including a knack for
scoring goals and amassing points.

Nick was the highest-scoring draft-eligible Canadian in the Canadian Hockey
League, posting 45 goals and 96 points with the Attack, good for fifth in
the OHL scoring race. Ryan’s season wasn’t too bad either; he put up 59
points in 32 games with the London Jr. Knights (Minor Midget AAA), leading
the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario in scoring and winning an Alliance

Despite those parallels, their personalities are different, which helps
keep their bond close despite the distance between them during the season.

“We are pretty similar … we see and think the game the same way, but Nick
is a pretty funny kid. He is a big character and likes to make people
laugh. He is more of a jokester than I am,” says Ryan.

Nick describes his brother as more of a “calm guy that doesn’t get too
heated.” As much as Nick tries to pick on Ryan, he doesn’t bite on
anything. That means Ryan could soon follow in a few more of his brother’s
footsteps – Nick was named the most sportsmanlike player in the OHL and CHL
last season.

So as much as Ryan and Nick enjoy facing off against each other and getting
those competitive juices flowing, the bond they have will continue to grow
as they pursue their hockey dreams.

“Even though we will be in different cities, I don’t think it will be hard
to stay in touch,” says Nick. “We will play each other a few times during
the season, and during the off-season we will hang out … we are still
brothers. We are always going to be brothers.”

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