The last 12 months have been a whirlwind for Chicagoland native Alex Broadhurst. After being drafted in the seventh round by the team he grew up watching and cheering for, Broadhurst attended Blackhawks prospect camp along with his brother, Terry. Success continued for Broadhurst as he led the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers in regular-season and playoff scoring en route to winning the Clark Cup. Now, he's poised to make the jump to one of the OHL’s perennial powerhouses. chicagoblackhawks.com caught up with Broadhurst to chat about his hockey influences, scoring the USHL’s first-ever shorthanded hat trick and the road ahead.
First of all, congratulations on winning the Clark Cup! Did you get a day with the trophy, or did the team celebrate as a group?
We just celebrated after the game. You could stay as long as you wanted and hang out with the Cup because [the game] was in Green Bay.
Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, tell us how it felt to be drafted by your hometown team and then get to attend last year’s Prospect Camp with your brother, Terry.
It was a dream come true. We’ve grown up as Blackhawks fans our whole lives; we’ve got Blackhawks stuff all over the house, and the Blackhawks were a way of life for us. For both of us to be at Prospect Camp was unbelievable. For me to get drafted was awesome, and now [Terry] is signed and playing with Rockford. Obviously, our parents’ dream come true would be for us to play together on a line, and hopefully it can happen one day.
This season you doubled your totals from 2010-11, finished as the third-highest point-scorer in the USHL and led the league offensively in the playoffs. What part of your game improved the most from last year to allow you to have such an explosive season?
The biggest thing was growing and getting stronger. My first year, my line was kind of the fourth line and didn’t get much of a chance. I was kind of small, but through the summer I got stronger. This year our coach gave us a chance and we played a lot, had a lot of ice time. Getting bigger and stronger helped me out the most.
Who was your favorite player growing up, and is there any player you try to emulate?
For both me and my brother, our favorite player growing up was probably Jeremy Roenick when he played on the Hawks. We were big fans and we still love watching him on TV broadcasts. We used to go to the rink and get his autograph all the time when he was in town.
I also used to love Joe Sakic. He was a skilled center who made plays and put the puck in the net, and he was probably my favorite player of all time.
How would you compare you and your brother’s style of play?
We’re slightly different—I’m a center and he’s a wing, and my game is more two-way; I play both defense and offense. Terry plays pretty good defense, too, but he’s more of an offensive mind. We play together over the summer and we both always want the puck and want to control the game. We’re pretty similar in our hockey sense, but as far as the game goes, we’re kind of different.
How about your off-ice personalities?
Personality-wise, everyone says we’re like twins. We act the same, we talk the same. I heard it the other day—my grandparents were like, “My gosh, you guys are the exact same, the way you talk, the way you look.”
What are your plans next season?
I’m actually going to play in the OHL. I got drafted a couple months ago by the London Knights, where Patrick Kane played.
When you get drafted, it’s an unbelievable feeling, and you kind of stop and take a look at yourself, ask yourself if you can do what it takes to be a pro. I definitely hope I have what it takes—I’m going to do the work for it and hopefully I can get there one day. - Alex Broadhurst
How have your two seasons in the USHL prepared you to play in Canadian major juniors? Are you expecting the OHL to be a pretty similar experience?
I think it’s pretty similar. Both leagues play about 70 or 75 games total, including the playoffs. Obviously it’ll be a little different; you get [a stipend], and in Canada you don’t really have to pay for anything [due to billeting]. The USHL is preparing you to be a pro—traveling and being on the road a lot, playing a lot of games and practicing and working out every day. The USHL prepared me for the OHL, and hopefully the OHL will prepare me for the NHL.
On April 24 you scored a shorthanded hat trick, the first one in USHL history. What can you remember about that game, and which of your three tallies was your favorite?
To be honest, I think the first goal was probably the coolest one. It was a big game for us; we were tied 1-1 in the series, and the other team had won one in our home rink. We needed a win to get up in the series, and everyone was pretty fired up. In the first couple shifts of the game, we took a penalty, and I kind of read the play and poke-checked the guy. I went on a breakaway, made a move and went backhand, five-hole on the guy. I went on one knee and did a pretty cool celebration, and it was a lot of fun. All three goals were pretty cool.
Did you get to keep the game puck?
Yeah, I do have the puck. There’s written tape around it for the hat trick, so I made sure I kept that.
It’s been almost a year since you got drafted. What’s been the biggest change to your life since then, both in your development as a hockey player and as a 19-year-old?
When you get drafted, it’s an unbelievable feeling, and you kind of stop and take a look at yourself, ask yourself if you can do what it takes to be a pro. It’s a lot of work; I’ve been working out like crazy. You don’t really get summer vacations anymore. You get a week off and then you hit the weight room. Training to be a pro, all those guys work out every day and do what it takes. I definitely hope I have what it takes—I’m going to do the work for it and hopefully I can get there one day.
If you had to choose your favorite moment of the season, would it be the shorthanded hattie or winning the Clark Cup?
I think anyone on our team would definitely say winning the Clark Cup. The shorthanded hat trick was an awesome feat, but anyone would choose the Stanley Cup over the Conn Smythe Trophy. You can ask any player that, and it would definitely be the Clark Cup.
Looking ahead to transitioning to the OHL, what’s the biggest area of improvement you want to target this offseason?
The area of my game that I have to work on the most is definitely my defense. I’m strong defensively, but I have to be a little stronger. Sometimes I like to cheat a little bit and leave the zone early, and all of the sudden there’s a turnover and they put the puck in the net. That’s the biggest thing I have to work on.
Also, I’m as tall as my dad and my brother, but it’s hard for us to gain weight and get stronger, so that’s something I have to work hard on.