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The Suzuki bros.: A family affair

Hockey sense seems to be built into the Suzuki family DNA

by Pierre-Antoine Mercier, translated by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

MONTREAL - Nick Suzuki and his younger brother, Ryan, will have good reason to celebrate on June 21.

Nearly two years ago to that day, Nick was picked in the first round (13th overall) by the Vegas Golden Knights at the 2017 Draft in Chicago. This time, it'll be Ryan's turn to hop on stage at Rogers Arena to proudly slip on a jersey of one of the NHL's 31 teams.

The Canadiens prospect will head to Vancouver along with his family to take in this momentous occasion in his younger brother's life.

Ryan, for his part, was not afraid of playing the part of a pundit when it comes to predicting where he'll be picked.

"At the start of the season, he told me he'd get picked lower than me. We'll see about that on Draft day," explained Nick, who is older by one year, nine months and 18 days. "We didn't put any money on it, it's just a friendly bet between him and me."

While we wait to see who will win the bet, Ryan can still boast that he was picked first overall in the 2017 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection. Nick, meanwhile, was taken 14th overall by the Owen Sound Attack.

Runs in the family

The two brothers have followed a similar path in their hockey careers up until now. They both went through the London Junior Knights Midget AAA program. They've also each been named ALLIANCE Hockey Player of the Year - Nick in 2015, Ryan in 2017.

Nick and Ryan also play a similar style of game. The two brothers are both known for their hockey IQ and vision on the ice.

"I don't think there's a big difference between Ryan's game and mine. He's a bit bigger than me, but I would say we see the game the same way," outlined Nick. "He passes the puck more than me, but sometimes he should just shoot it."

The Suzuki bros. were both in the spotlight in the OHL in 2018-19.

While Nick was voted as the league's most intelligent player by OHL coaches, Ryan came in fourth place. The two brothers also tied for fourth place in the Coaches Poll for best hands.

Ryan also finished second in the OHL for best playmaker, while Nick was voted the third-best shot by the league's bench bosses.

The two siblings have been competing against each other since they were very young. Ryan still has some scars from past battles with his older brother.

"When we were younger, we had some disagreements when we played hockey, especially mini-sticks. One time he even needed stitches," recounted Nick. "There's always been some competition in our household."

A memorable first showdown

The Suzukis faced each other for the first time in Junior on September 3, 2017 in a preseason game. That contest will forever be etched in the minds of the two brothers, but not for the reason you might be thinking.

"Last season, we played our first preseason game against each other in Owen Sound. We had a lot of family make the trip. I took the opening faceoff against him and I cleaned him up," Nick couldn't help but recalling, with a laugh. "Later in the game, we were each skating to our own benches and I took the chance to give him a little slash on the shin pads. The referee saw me do it and decided to give me a penalty. I was pretty frustrated. I told the ref, 'You know that's my brother?' and he replied 'I don't care!' and he sent me to the penalty box. I was frustrated, but it was pretty funny."

Tweet from @OHLBarrieColts: @nsuzuki_37 sent to the box for a slash on his brother @RSuzuki61 both had a good laugh about it as Nick went to the box.

Nick got the last word in that game, collecting a pair of assists on the way to a 5-1 win.

On June 21, the two brothers will be reunited once again - and who knows, maybe they'll end up finding themselves in the same corner...

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