Friendship isn't the right word to describe Tyson Jost's relationship with Dante Fabbro. Brotherhood is more appropriate.
"We're all kind of like brothers. One day we're pissing each other off and we want to rip each other's heads off, and the next day it's all fun like brothers," Jost said of Fabbro and their close-group of friends. "It's pretty cool to have that, and I want him to do well. It's part of that, part of that brotherly love, for sure."
Jost, who is in his third NHL season with the Colorado Avalanche, and Fabbro, who is 15 games into his first full campaign with the Nashville Predators, have a tight bond that goes back to their time in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. The two players have been "connected at the hip" since they were 15 years old and playing in the junior-A ranks for the Penticton Vees in B.C. Hockey League.
They were part of the Vees squad that won the league championship in 2015 but were also roommates, or brothers of sort, as they shared the same billet family during their two-year stint from 2014-2016.
Their friendship has grown so close that the two still live and train together in the offseason in the Vancouver area, and their families have become especially close as well.
"My mom is pretty much his second mom, and his mom is my second mom too," Jost said of the Fabbros. "We're super, super close with each other's families. It's been a pretty cool friendship, for sure."
Both players were part of a historic NHL Draft class in 2016 for the BCHL, as it was the first time that the Canadian junior-A league had three players picked in the first round. Jost was selected at No. 10, seven picks before Fabbro, while the Chilliwack Chiefs' Dennis Cholowski was chosen 20th overall by Detroit.
While meeting the Avs staff and going through the media gauntlet at that draft, Jost kept close tabs on the proceedings to see where Fabbro was going to be picked. Less than an hour after hearing his own name called and in between photo stations in the bowels of the then-First Niagara Center in Buffalo, he heard the news that Fabbro was selected by an Avs' division rival.
"It's super cool and a place like Nashville too, we both got drafted to pretty cool spots. It worked out awesome," Jost said to ColoradoAvalanche.com on Thursday morning when reflecting on that June day three years ago.
Their paths to the NHL from junior-A ranks were also both bridged by time at the collegiate level.
Jost played one year at the University of North Dakota in 2016-17 before signing with the Avs at the conclusion of his season and skating in six NHL games with Colorado. Fabbro spent three years at Boston University where he went on to win a Hockey East championship and was named to the conference's second all-star team twice before turning pro last spring.
While Jost has 156 games worth of NHL service, Fabbro has only 19, but the two have stayed in touch during the years, no matter which level they might have been playing at.
"Obviously it's tough with the season, you kind of get involved with your own team and whatnot, but we always send a text here and there and check up on each other and see how they're doing," Jost said. "Talk about how we're feeling out there in the middle of games and stuff like that."
Thursday marks the two billet brothers' first-ever meeting in the NHL, as the Avalanche hosts the Predators at Pepsi Center.
"It will be good to see him," Fabbro said of facing Jost to NashvillePredators.com after morning skate. "I gave him a text last night to see how things are. It will be a lot of fun, I'm excited to play him. He's doing well now, so it will be good to get out there and battle against him a bit."
Jost expects a battle on the ice, and not just because he's close with Fabbro. He and the Avs are looking to get back on a winning note and end their current 0-4-1 stretch.
"They're a great team. They have a great backend. They have been notorious of having great D the last few years here," Jost said of the Predators. "We got to play smart, play the right way and play to our identity too. Get back to Avs hockey. It's fun when we play that way. Everybody is excited in this locker room, and we're excited to get back on the right track here."
Video: Tyson Jost ahead of the game against Nashville
Fabbro seems next in a long line of quality defensemen that have come through the Nashville organization in the past decade. The Predators own one of deepest crop of players at that position in the league, and Fabbro seems to have fit into head coach Peter Laviolette's system. He's playing nearly 20 minutes a night this season after suiting up in every playoff game against the Dallas Stars last year.
Jost might be one of the few players that know Fabbro's game the best, with the forward and defenseman facing off in on-ice drills as part of their summer workouts.
"You're never really ever beating him 1-on-1. He's so good defensively," Jost said. "He's probably one of the smartest defenseman I've played with or against. He's very heady with the puck. He seems to make the right play, that is something he's done ever since we were 15 years old. He's always making the right play, the smart play. We're still young, we're only 21, but he kind of plays that veteran game where he never ever make mistakes. You can really trust him out there, for sure."
The friends will now turn into foes at least four times a year, and Jost says he might throw a couple extra pushes and jabs in after the whistle at Fabbro if the timing is right. Just to push some buttons and heat things up, like siblings often do.
"I probably won't think about it too much on the ice," Jost said. "It will be funny when he's out there against me, maybe if there is a shift in front of the net and there is a whistle, we'll be barking at each other a little bit. This game is pretty important, so I don't know. After the game we'll laugh and have all that stuff."
Jost and Fabbro have only played against each other once before, with Fabbro's team getting the better end of the collegiate matchup. BU won 4-3 in double overtime on March 24, 2017 in the NCAA West Regional Semifinal that ended the Fighting Hawks' championship dreams. Jost signed with the Avalanche a week later.
The two players have come a long way since riding the bus and traveling to cities and towns throughout B.C. with the Vees. They now get to skate together again on the same ice, but this time on the biggest stage.
"We started together in Penticton, roomed together when we were 15 years old, we have a really good friendship, have spent the summers together," Jost said. "It's cool to see where we are now."
Hey moms look, both brothers have made it to the NHL.
Goaltender Philipp Grubauer won't dress tonight as he is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, head coach Jared Bednar said following morning skate.
"He tweaked it last game against Dallas, but something has been bugging him for a little bit," said Bednar of Grubauer, who won't be available for the next couple games but will be on the Avs' upcoming five-game road trip that starts next week.
Video: Jared Bednar before the Avs host the Predators
Pavel Francouz will make his fifth start of the season in net for Colorado, while Adam Werner was recalled earlier in the day from the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles to be the backup against the Predators.
Werner, who is making his first NHL call-up, has had a solid start with the Eagles this season, his first full professional campaign in North America. He has a 5-4-0 record, 2.88 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in nine games and stopped all 30 shots for his first AHL shutout on Tuesday against the Ontario Reign.
"I've seen portions of some games, some highlights here and there, but positive things coming from their coaching staff," Bednar said of Werner.
The Mariestad, Sweden, native was drafted by the Avalanche in the fifth round (No. 131 overall) in 2016 and signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the club on May 13.
TYNAN'S AVS DEBUT
Forward T.J. Tynan is expected to play his first game in an Avalanche uniform after being recalled from the Eagles on Wednesday afternoon. Tynan switched spots with Jayson Megna, who was reassigned to AHL Colorado after playing in four games with the Avs over the last week.
"To me through our training camp, there were a couple guys that really stood out in training camp and exhibition games and gained a lot games that we liked," Bednar said. "Megna was one of them and T.J. was another one… Now we're going to try and create a spark and get another guy that we really liked out of training camp up and reward him for some good play with the Eagles."
Video: T.J. Tynan ahead of Colorado's game against the Preds
Tynan is in his first season in the Avalanche organization after signing a one-year contract as a free agent on July 2. He left the Eagles as the team's leading scorer with 12 points (two goals and 10 assists) in 10 AHL contests and has recorded four multi-point outings this year.
The Orland Park, Illinois, native will be playing his fourth career NHL contest after suiting up in three outings with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2016-17. His last game was March 11, 2017 at the Buffalo Sabres.
"I'm really excited," Tynan said after morning skate. "I'm just going to try and play my game, use my speed and quickness, and if I can chip in offensively, that's great, but you got to be responsible defensively. For me, I think it is just playing hard and playing the right way."