Nearly two decades ago, Alex Broadhurst and his older brother, Terry, were just beginning to discover a shared love for the game of hockey.
"We had an unfinished basement, so it was all cement," Alex said. "We'd just put on our roller blades and go 1-on-1 for hours."
Fast forward to the present day, where the duo has moved to a much bigger stage. They're teammates on the Rockford IceHogs, the American Hockey League affiliate for 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 season.
It didn't take long for Rockford coach Ted Dent to recognize the familial connection on the ice between center Alex and left wing Terry, who have played 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," Dent said. "They've played together growing up and they communicate well. They 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 games, while Alex has 12 goals and 24 assists in 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," Terry said. "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 each other to improve, each Broadhurst brother started establishing his own particular playing style 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," Terry said. "We think the game the same way and we both try to create."
As they've spent more time playing together, those contrasting styles have complemented each other well on the ice.
"I like to slow the game down a bit … and he is just more high-speed all the time," Alex said. "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. Being so close 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," Terry said. "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," Alex said. "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]."
They'd love to realize their NHL dreams together. But if one brother happens to get the call to Chicago before the other, it will only add another chapter to a classic sibling rivalry.
"If he made it up before me, or if I got my chance before him … [the other] would be absolutely ecstatic," Alex said. "At the same time you're a little jealous, and I think that's where the competition comes in."
From that basement rink to Rockford, the brotherly rivalry has come full circle.
"Getting better every day is the big thing," Terry said. "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."
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