Sibling rivalry in WHL

JASON HILLS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

Brett and Clarke Breitkreuz have always had their fair share of battles growing up together on their farm outside of Springside, Sask.

Tonight, the two brothers will face off for the first time in regular season as Western Hockey League foes when Clarke's Regina Pats invade Brett and the Edmonton Oil Kings.

LOTS ON THE LINE

For Brett, this game is about family bragging rights.

The brothers faced each other when Regina played Edmonton in an exhibition game earlier this season.

Brett scored. So did Clarke, but he got the edge because his goal was the game winner.

"We have a family that kind of gives it to each other, so if I came home (at Christmas) and my little brother was outscoring me, (head-to-head) I would be getting roasted around the Christmas tree," smiled Brett yesterday before the Oil Kings practice

"He's got all the bragging rights so far and he's been giving me the gears.

"He probably feels like it's a little bit of payback. We used to get into fights when we'd play Playstation and if he beat me, I'd turn it off so he couldn't claim the win.

"He's probably really enjoying this, but (tonight) is for real. I'll give him the edge in exhibition."

The Oil Kings have enjoyed the benefits of Brett, who's enjoying early-season success after a strong first season with the Oil Kings.

He leads the Oil Kings in goals with seven and his 13 points ties him for the team lead with co-captain Jeff Lee.

Clarke is entering his first season in the WHL and is finding his role on a deep Pats roster that is expected to contend for the WHL title this season.

"It's going to be special," said Clarke, who has one assist through seven games. "It's our dad's birthday (yesterday), and we are going to have lots of family there to cheer us on.

"We've been talking about this game since I knew I made the team, and I'm hoping there are a few more family members cheering for me.

'SPLIT DECISION'

"I know some of the cousins will be on my side and giving Brett a hard time, but it could come down to a split decision.

"Any time there's an underdog, our family likes to go for them, and I'm clearly the underdog."

Brett began his WHL career three seasons ago with the Kelowna Rockets. He wanted to make the Rockets as a 16-year-old. After suffering two fractured feet the previous summer, he had to wait another season.

After a respectable rookie campaign as a 17-year-old with the Rockets (where he tallied 14 points in 58 games), he's flourished as an Oil King and is on the cusp of a breakout campaign this year.

For Clarke, who turns 17 on Remembrance Day, his minor hockey career has certainly had its ups and downs.

At 15, he was cut from his Midget AAA team and was also cut at the Midget AA level. He spent the year playing senior hockey in his hometown.

Last year, he was cut again after an impressive training camp, so he decided to leave home and play Midget AAA for the Beardy's Blackhawks in Duck Lake, Sask.

By Christmas, he was listed with the Pats as a prospect.

"He's had to overcome a lot, and we're certainly proud of him," said Brett.

"He's one of the hardest- working players I know and he deserves to be in the WHL. Now we can experience life together in the WHL and it's going to be special."

When the two of them were younger, that rivalry between one another almost stood in the way, but not now.

They are going to have fun with this rivalry.

"Hockey has certainly brought us closer," said Clarke. "A few years ago, it was hard to take advice from him, because I thought I was smarter, but we've both grown up a bit and we respect each other more, but we'll always play 100% against each other; it's the way we've been raised."


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