For most of their lives, ASU hockey seniors Brinson and Steenn Pasichnuk have seemingly always shared the ice.
It began in the small town of Bonnyville, Alberta, nearly 150 miles northeast of Edmonton with less than 6,000 people.
Early on, the siblings represented the Lloydminster Bobcats' organization in midget and junior leagues but really convened in the 2013-14 season as members of the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
“It’s been great," Steenn said. "Growing up together as little toddlers from 3 to 4 years old up until we were 15 or 16, we were inseparable. We were doing everything together. We started playing hockey together and it was just a great experience, and it was always our dream to play Junior A together in Bonnyville and that ended up working out.”
The Pasichnuk brothers went on to play the next three seasons of their hockey careers for the Pontiacs.
They made countless memories together, including a record-setting season with the program in what the two describe as their favorite hockey memory as siblings: When the duo advanced to the AJHL North Final and won in double-overtime.
“That was by far my favorite memory with him," Brinson said. "It was something that never happened before in that organization, and I just remember we scored that goal and tears came to our eyes because that’s our hometown team that we grew up watching and to be a part of that team that broke a record — that was something I’ll never forget.”
Steenn recalls similar feelings about that game.
“I remember going into overtime, everyone was just shaking (and) scared because we were ready to make history ... and I just remember some of the guys were crying after the game,” he said. “It was such an amazing feeling.”
At the time, playing together in Alberta was already more than they could’ve imagined, but little did they know their relationship as teammates would continue into college hockey.
Their NCAA journey didn’t quite end up the way they had planned. Brinson had originally announced his commitment to the University of Vermont in September 2015. When Brinson realized that other Division I programs had an eye on his brother and the chances of playing together grew slim, he made the decision to decommit from Vermont and play with Steenn.
Like everything that had previously gone on in their lives, they committed to ASU together, and their father, Michael, was there to witness it all.
“When (Brinson) found out his brother was getting offers from several schools, the first thing he said to me was, ‘Dad, I want to play with my brother. I want to go where Steenn goes,’” Michael said. “I said that ... the dream was to play NCAA hockey, but for us as a family for them to play together, (it) was just total excitement and enthusiasm.”
After Brinson decided to decommit from Vermont and open his options again, he looked at NCAA programs through a different lens — one that included being with his brother.
“Brinson decommitted and waited about 30 days until coach Powers talked to them, and they had a couple weeks to think about it,” Michael said. "It was something out of a script: they had everything together and here they are on the phone with one coach, committing together.”
Michael, who saw his sons develop and play side-by-side throughout their lives from the time they were toddlers, is very grateful the two chose to attend the same NCAA program.
“For us, we had always said that the boys’ dreams came true when they committed to ASU, and ... I am so happy that’s the school they chose,” he said. “We sent two of our boys to Arizona State’s NCAA hockey team and they came out men.”
Brinson shares the same feelings toward his university.
“I think the first thing that comes to my mind is that I’m so blessed that God brought me here and gave me this opportunity here at ASU and coming here with my brother and making 28 other brothers in the process,” Brinson said. “It’s a time that honestly I don’t want to end.”
Kathi, the boys' mother, is also very grateful her sons came to ASU to continue their hockey journey together.
“I think that (ASU) has made them who they are," she said. "We come from a small town of 5,000 people. Just getting to watch them together has been such an encouragement to the entire town. We’re so grateful for it.”
Unfortunately for the Pasichnuk brothers, their time together as Sun Devil hockey players will come to an end after this season. Although they are in the early stages of writing the final chapter of their NCAA hockey lives, they both have their eyes set on the next level.
Both are now aiming to get their foot in the door of the National Hockey League, and their attempt to do that began this past summer when the two attended the San Jose Sharks’ development camp in California.
“It was really cool,” Brinson said. “Being able to go to an NHL camp with my brother was definitely even more than a dream come true ... being able to go to that camp, it was pretty special.”
The goal of playing together at the professional level is still very much alive, and if they were given that opportunity, they know it would be indicative of the amount of effort they put into hockey throughout their lives.
“I don’t even know how to put that into words,” Brinson said. “That would be incredible. I don’t know how to describe that, that would be something that even if it was for one game, we would never forget and we would always cherish that ... it would be surreal.”
For Michael and Kathi, their sons’ appearance at the professional level would be a reality beyond anything they could've imagined.
“There are no human words that I can explain of what a dream come true that would be,” Kathi said. "I guarantee you this: the first game that they would play, there would be 1,000 people from Bonnyville there.”
While they look ahead to what the future may hold, Brinson and Steenn still have their final seasons as Sun Devils ahead of them. Getting the opportunity to play together from the small town of Bonnyville, Alberta, to ASU, has meant the world to them.
“Just to get to share all of that with him is absolutely amazing,” Steenn said. “That kid is my best friend. He’s going to be my best friend until the day I die. ... “I am going to cherish the memories I’ve made with my little brother forever.”
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