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Suter Eager to Share All-Star Game with Family

Six-year old son Brooks only the latest Suter to fall in love with the game

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- The 2004 Disney movie "Miracle" tells the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. A favorite of many hockey fans, the film has introduced a new generation of fans to the most influential hockey moment in the country's history.

For six-year-old Brooks Suter, whose dad is Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, the movie has even more meaning. In addition to being one of his favorites, it's also a living, breathing biography of his Grandpa Bob, a defenseman on the 1980 team who passed away suddenly just over two years ago.

The film, along with his dad and a surname that will forever be synonymous with the sport of hockey, is what connects Brooks to Bob -- three generations of Suter men who have fallen in love with the game.

Bob never played in the NHL, but his brother Gary, Ryan's uncle, spent nearly two decades in the League, retiring only a few years before Ryan made his NHL debut in 2005.

Growing up around the game fueled Ryan's passion for it, and it appears to be doing the same for Brooks, a staple inside the Wild's dressing room after games. 

It's Brooks who is often organizing games of knee hockey with the kids of other players, wearing his youth-sized Wild sweater with "Suter" and "20" flapping in the breeze behind him; another legacy he shares with his dad and his grandpa.

While All-Star Game appearances have become almost expected for Ryan, as he prepares to embark on his third appearance in the game this weekend in Los Angeles, it's sharing the day with his family that makes it all the more special.

"[Brooks] remembers the last one in Columbus, but this one will be special for him," Ryan said. "He'll really soak it all in. He knows all the players now just from us playing against different teams. It'll be a lot of fun for him."

Brooks and his mom, Ryan's wife, Becky, have been at each of Ryan's previous All-Star Game appearances. Brooks was just 1 in 2012 at Ryan's first one in Ottawa and was 4 at the game in Columbus.

Now, he's reaching an age where he will truly appreciate the memories he makes with his dad. For Ryan, it's another opportunity to share his life in the sport with his son, much like he did growing up with his dad and his uncle. 

Brooks, who plays mite hockey, will often practice on outdoor ice. Once, while Ryan carried him to the rink, he asked his dad if he ever played outside when he was a kid.

Not only did Ryan play on outdoor rinks as a kid, he lived next to one, as the Suter home was on a lake.

"I was always in charge of shoveling the rink," Ryan said. "I tell him that stuff, and he's just in awe as I was telling him the stories."

Last week, Ryan was able to share a few more stories with Brooks. On Wednesday, a new Herb Brooks statue was unveiled in downtown St. Paul, with more than half a dozen players from the 1980 hockey team in attendance.

As he often does, Ryan stood in for his dad. He brought Brooks with him and he got to learn about several of the men who made history with his grandpa more than three decades ago.

"I was telling him who these guys were, and that they were on grandpa's team and in the movie," Ryan said. "He could kind of tell, and he didn't realize it then, but driving home, he started to talk about it more. He's catching on."

Two days later, Brooks accompanied his dad to Stillwater as Ryan dropped the ceremonial first puck before the Badgers-Gophers alumni game as part of Hockey Day Minnesota.

Ryan, who wore a red and white Badger jersey, brought Brooks, clad in a Wisconsin sweater hat himself, on the ice. While there, he was able to connect with many who have deep ties to the University of Wisconsin, where the Suter name is legendary. 

It's those little moments that Ryan said he cherishes the most.  

The family will get to make even more of these memories in Los Angeles this weekend, an opportunity that Ryan is most excited for.

"That's the best part about this," Ryan said. "Everybody gets to bring their families and it's pretty laid back. It's not the typical grind of the season and it's a nice break. To get to travel during the season with your family, it's should be a lot of fun."

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