Ontario Hockey League: London stars Nick Suzuki and Ryan Suzuki played each other for the first time ever this weekend

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OWEN SOUND — Ryan Suzuki says his big brother Nick was always his biggest hockey role model growing up in London.

“I went to a lot of his games in minor hockey and watched a lot of the little things he does and whenever I skate with him, I try to pick up some new things. He’s been my biggest inspiration pretty much my whole life,” Ryan said Sunday after his Barrie Colts lost 5-1 to the Owen Sound Attack in Ontario Hockey League exhibition play.

Nick Suzuki, 18, is a skilled centre with the Attack who was drafted 13th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights in this summer’s NHL draft. His 16-year-old brother Ryan, also a centre, is a rookie in Barrie after being selected first overall by the Colts in April’s OHL draft.

With their parents and other family members in the stands, the Suzuki brothers faced off against each other to open Sunday’s game and were opponents on the ice several times throughout the contest.

Nick Suzuki even got a penalty for slashing his kid brother in the third period.

“I saw him skating to the bench and I just gave him a little tap and apparently I slashed him hard enough to get a penalty. I think it was just more of a love tap to welcome him,” Nick said.

Nick and Ryan, who grew up in London playing for the Junior Knights, never played with or against each other in minor hockey. But they did play many road hockey games and scrimmages together growing up.

So Sunday’s game was a first for the brothers.

“It’s definitely a different thing to play your brother in the OHL but I think he did really well tonight,” Nick said after the game.

“He got an assist, too, so I think he looked good out there and it was fun to play against him.”

Ryan, an OHL newcomer, said it was nice seeing a familiar face on the ice.

“But, at the same, you kind of have to focus on your game and not worry about him too much. But it was fun seeing him out there,” he said. “He gave me a little slash but he got a penalty for it and I was laughing at him for that one.”

The Suzuki brothers’ parents, Amanda and Rob, said they were beaming with pride watching their two sons play Sunday.

“It’s one of those dreams come true to see both boys play together at this level,” Amanda said.

Rob said they weren’t cheering for a team to win Sunday, but rooting for both of their sons to do well.

Amanda said now that she and Rob are empty-nesters, they will be able to travel more often from their home in London to both Owen Sound and Barrie to watch their sons play.

Amanda said Nick and Ryan were “very close” growing up and are both awesome kids.

“They’re very humble and they’re good teammates and linemates,” she said.

Nick Suzuki had a pair of assists and Ryan Suzuki also had an assist in the game, a 5-1 Attack win. Nick was named the third star of the game. Owen Sound goalie Zack Bowman stopped 16 shots, while Barrie’s Kai Edmonds and Christian Propp combined to stop 31 shots.

After Sunday’s game, Nick Suzuki said he sees great things ahead for the Attack this season.

“We’ve got a lot of good players and we’ve got a lot of guys coming back who have been through the OHL and have experience there. From what I’ve seen, I think we can be a top team,” he said.

The Suzuki Brothers better get used to going head-to-head – Owen Sound and Barrie play again Monday at 6 p.m. in Barrie.

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