by Alyssa Dombrowski || for NHL.com
“We had an unfinished basement, so it was all cement,” said Alex. “We’d just put on our roller blades and go one-on-one for hours.”
Fast-forward to present day, where the duo has moved to a much bigger stage – they’re teammates on the Rockford IceHogs, American Hockey League affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Alex, 21, was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2011 and is a rookie after three junior seasons in the United States Hockey League (2010-12) and Ontario Hockey League (2012-13). Terry, 25, signed with Chicago as an undrafted free agent in 2012 following three years at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and is in his second pro campaign.
Rockford head coach Ted Dent recognizes the familial on-ice connection between center Alex and left wing Terry, who have been playing on the same line regularly since early February.
“With brothers you see in the NHL – the Sedins and other pairs – there’s just a little more chemistry sometimes,” said Dent. “They’ve played together growing up and they communicate well. [Terry and Alex] are very competitive kids against each other in practice and also in games, which is great.”
The brothers, both 5-foot-11, have each recorded 36 points so far this season; Terry has 15 goals and 21 assists in 62 contests, while Alex has 12 goals and 24 assists in his 64 games. They’re tied for third on the team in scoring, which only adds fuel to their natural sibling rivalry.
“It’s an unspoken competition,” said Terry. “We both know it’s there. Obviously, we’re both pushing for each other to do well, especially when we’re playing together. But if I see him playing well, I want to play well or better.”
“I think it’s a healthy competition for both of us,” Alex said. “We push each other to be better hockey players.”
Constantly challenging the other to improve, the Broadhursts have been familiar with each other’s styles of play since long before they became teammates.
“He’s a little more east-west and I’m a little more north-south, but as far as offensive instincts go, we’re pretty similar,” said Terry. “We think the game the same way and we both try to create.”
Their tendencies complement each other well on the ice, according to the younger brother.
“I like to slow the game down a bit … and he is just more high-speed all the time,” said Alex. “It works out, because I get to slow it down and give [the puck] to him. He’s a really fast player and is always moving, so I always find him at top speed.”
The Broadhursts hail from Orland Park, Ill., just 30 minutes outside of Chicago and two hours from Rockford. Their proximity to home has made the brothers’ professional experience just as special for their parents, Terry and Valerie.
“Seeing their faces when they come to games, when I signed my contract and when Alex signed his kind of sums everything up,” said Terry, who served as captain at UNO in 2011-12. “For them to see us start achieving our dreams, it’s pretty special, especially with the hometown team.”
Despite being more than four years Alex’s senior, Terry has remained intent on acting as a teammate, rather than an older sibling, to his rookie brother.
“Going into the season, it was something I thought about,” said Terry. “It’s always been a big brother type of thing … but I’ve really tried to just turn it into a teammate thing. I think that’s why it’s been successful and we’ve had chemistry playing together.
“I’m not trying to boss him around or tell him things he doesn’t want to hear. I’m letting him figure it out the way any other rookie would.”
Showing a similar sense of professionalism, Alex is appreciative of the unique opportunity to play alongside his brother.
“It’s been incredible,” said Alex. “You dream of growing up and playing with your brother, playing on the same team – obviously for us, it was playing for the Blackhawks. We’re one step closer right now [in Rockford].”
Alex and Terry hold the NHL dream not only for themselves individually, but for each other as well.
“If he made it up before me, or if I got my chance before him, or what have you … [the other] would be absolutely ecstatic,” said Alex. “At the same time you’re a little jealous, and I think that’s where the competition comes in.”
As they continue to drive one another toward their shared goal, the brotherly rivalry that began in that basement rink many years ago has come full circle.
“Getting better every day is the big thing,” said Terry. “It’s about consistency. You have to push each other, and I think that’s what we try to remind each other – just keep going, keep battling, keep working.”