Two siblings from Alberta, Canada continue their bond by playing with ASU hockey
Photo by Josh Orcutt | The State Press
ASU freshmen and brothers, Brinson Pasichnuk (39) and Steenn Pasichnuk (28), are pictured while playing in a 5-2 victory against Air Force in Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016.
By Matt Layman
When ASU hockey successfully recruited Steenn Pasichnuk, a junior hockey player in Alberta, Canada, they wound up with more than they anticipated.
Brinson Pasichnuk, Steenn’s younger brother by two years and teammate with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Bonnyville Pontiacs, had already committed to the University of Vermont. He later changed his mind, electing to seek out a school where both he and his brother could play.
“We went after those guys hard. They’re just two guys that wanted to go somewhere together,” ASU hockey head coach Greg Powers said. “They wanted to build something and be a part of something special. It was a natural fit, and it took one phone call with me and they committed. They really want to be here, and they can see it in their everyday effort.”
The future remains uncertain for the pair, but they’ll have time to think about it; Brinson and Steenn are both freshman, the former a defenseman and the latter a forward, with several years of collegiate hockey ahead of them.
They’re yet another example of family ties in hockey, a trend exemplified by an NHL full of Staal brothers and a Vancouver Canucks team that features the Sedin twins.
On Tuesday, Brinson and Steenn talked with The State Press to pull the curtain back on the life of two siblings in NCAA hockey:
ML: Brinson, Coach Powers told me yesterday you were committed to Vermont first before committing to ASU?
Brinson: Yeah, I committed at the start of last year. But then I thought about it, I wanted to play college hockey with my brother, since I was playing junior with him already. I thought there was a good chance we could do that. So I told Vermont, ‘Listen, here’s my situation,’ and they never went for Steenn or anything. So I de-committed there, and we just found the best fit for us. We’re pumped up we’re here.
ML: Steenn, what was the recruiting process like for you?
Steenn: He was committed to Vermont, I was talking to a couple of different schools. Then it just kind of happened where, we started talking about wanting to play together. He de-committed from Vermont, and we just both talked about it and said, ‘Let’s just hold off here for a bit and see what offer we can find that would suit both of us the best.’ ASU came knocking at the door and it was obviously the best pick for us.
ML: What’s the experience like as a high schooler playing junior hockey in Alberta?
Steenn: It’s pretty cool. We’re from a small hometown, too, so the hockey team is pretty big there. You’re kind of like celebrities in your own hometown, I guess you could say. Just a really cool experience, you go out in public and have people come up and talk to you about the league. Even stuff like talking to young kids who look up to you, it’s just a great experience.
Brinson: Both years of junior, I was in high school. So, it was pretty cool with the teachers – all the teachers kind of talked to me every day about a game, they’d help me out when I would go on road trips and miss class. They’d always be there to help me with tutoring after school. It was just really cool – all my friends, whenever we would hang out, go out in public, they felt pretty cool ‘cause everyone knew me. Everyone would come and talk to me when they were around me. It was really sweet – I loved it.
ML: Speaking of juniors, Steenn was the captain for a little bit on the Bonnyville Pontiacs. What was that like?
Brinson: It was cool – we looked up to the Pontiacs our whole lives growing up, so when we both were on the team for those couple years and he was captain, I was assistant, it was a dream come true.
Steenn: It was good. I had some great captains before me who played on that team that I could learn from and I could kind of ask questions if I had any. But it was a learning curve throughout the whole junior experience coming up last year, where, the coach kind of gives you the ropes. You’re just trying to lead the team your best, but all-in-all, it was a great experience and I did a lot of learning. It worked out well.
ML (to Steenn): Are you ever going to get away from your brother?
Steenn: (Sighs) I don’t know. We’ll see. It’s definitely easy for our parents. That weighed a lot into our decision. When they fly down, they only have to fly to one school, so they appreciate that a lot. But who knows. I don’t know if the guy can take care of himself without me.
Brinson: Yeah, I don’t know. We’ll see what happens after college. Our dream is to play pro, but you don’t hear of too many teams signing two brothers. We’ll see what happens. Whatever happens, we’ll be ready for.
ML: Speaking of playing pro, Brinson, you got to go to development camp with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. How was that?
Brinson: Yeah, I went to Minnesota’s camp. It was eight days in July – really hard, it was a long eight days. You’re on the ice twice a day, you work out, you have meetings. It was long but a really good eye-opener.
ML: I read that you two like to hunt and fish – who is the better hunter and fisher?
Brinson: I don’t know, we’re pretty close – we’ve grown up our whole lives hunting and fishing since we were three years old. We love outdoors, all that stuff is pretty awesome.
Steenn: He shot a bigger deer last year, but in the years before that, I think I took the win. Like he said – we like to hunt, fish, snowboard; the outdoors and all that, we’ve been raised on a farm. We’re used to all of that.
ML: Brinson, you were an athlete in high school in handball, badminton and track. You had your hands full, huh?
Brinson: Yeah. I got a bronze medal in provincials in shot put. My handball team won provincials last year. I played mixed badminton, we won provincials on the ‘D’ side of the province. That was all pretty cool – I grew up loving high school sports. They’re so much fun. Being with your friends every day, it was pretty awesome.
Steenn: I played badminton, I was men’s doubles. Me and my partner were pretty good. We went to provincials every year. I think the highest we ranked was fourth on the ‘A’ side. So it’s not bad – fourth in the province.
ML: I’d imagine that Tempe, Arizona is pretty different from Alberta. What’s the change been like for you guys?
Steenn: It’s a big culture change. I know back home, last night, they just got about a foot and a half of snow. So at this time of the year, we’d be bundled up in jackets and stuff, going out in the snow. Here, we’re still walking around in shorts. That part’s pretty cool. But it’s definitely a big change to get used to all the people. In our hometown there’s 7,000 people, this campus alone has 50,000. It’s definitely a big culture change with being around all different — there are a lot of people all the time.
(But) I love it. It’s amazing.
Brinson: (The change) hasn’t been too hard. We went from -40 Celsius – what we call it – to coming here to plus 40 degrees Celsius, it’s pretty awesome. It took me a while to get used to, but I’m loving it.
ML: How has been the transition to playing under Coach Powers and how does he compare to coaches you’ve had in the past?
Brinson: I love it. He’s really similar to my coach last year. He’s a player’s coach, he’s always there to talk to if you need anything. He’s giving us the opportunity to play, so that’s the most important thing. We’re so grateful and blessed to have that opportunity here. So we’re definitely going to take advantage of that.
Steenn: (The coaches) have been great. Like Brin said, he’s a player’s coach. If you have a problem, you can go talk to him. He doesn’t really beat around the bush with anything. If he has a problem with something you’re doing, he’s going to let you know. If you do something good, he’ll let you know, too. But like Brinny said, he gives us a shot. All you need is one shot, just to prove yourself. He’s been graceful enough to give us that. And we’re just trying to take advantage of it.
ML: Steenn, you (were involved in) the award for most dedicated player in the AJHL?
Steenn: I was nominated for it – Tyler Busch actually beat me out for it.
ML: How do you feel like you got that nomination?
Steenn: Just hard work put in every day in practice and in games. Going out there, winning every shift, making sure that you’re not getting out-battled. I think it came down to me and Tyler Busch and I’m not sure how many votes he beat me out by, but he’s really deserving of that reward, too. Just hard work is basically what it comes down to.
ML: Speaking of which – Brinson, you played with Busch in the World Junior A Challenge last year, did you get to talk with him much or get to know him before coming here?
Brinson: We’re really good buddies. We played together for team Canada last World Junior A Challenge. We ended up winning that, that was incredible. We really bonded there. So when he committed to ASU right before that tournament, and I de-committed from Vermont and committed here, he was pretty fired up that we got to go to school together. That was awesome.
ML: I think that’s all I’ve got. Are you guys enjoying playing as brothers in the NCAA?
Steenn: Yeah, for sure. It’s been a lot of fun so far.
Brinson: I love it. I’m looking forward to the next few years at this school with him. It’s going to be awesome.
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