International Ice Hockey Federation

Oh, brothers!

Oh, brothers!

The Kostitsyns are a close-knit pair

Published 08.05.2017 08:16 GMT+2 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Oh, brothers!
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 6: Belarus's Andrei Kostitsyn #46 and Sergei Kostitsyn #74 talk during a break in the play during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
They aren’t twins like Daniel and Henrik Sedin, but Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn are certainly two peas in a pod.

And although the IIHF has seen its fair share of brother combinations over the decades, few have played at as many levels over as many years as have they.

Although they didn’t play much together as kids, Andrei and Sergei have made up for lost time in the last decade and more, and as they’ve gotten older, they’ve made a point of playing for Belarus more often.

Born in Novopolotsk in the old Soviet Union, they also didn’t dream big when they were kids.

“We didn’t have a great dream to play in the NHL because we’re from a small town in a small hockey country,” Andrei, now 32 of age and the older by two years, explained. “We just played hockey and tried our best every day. That’s how we made the NHL.”

What’s amazing, though, is how often they’ve played together over such a long time. Not many brothers in international hockey can boast as strong a connection. They both played at the 2003 U18, two years later at the 2005 U20, and six times at the World Championship starting in 2008.

In fact, both players were drafted by the Montreal Canadiens. Andrei went first, and higher, being taken a lofty 10th overall in 2003. Two years later, Sergei went 200th overall.

“We first played together at 16 or 17,” Andrei continued. “We never played together as kids because I was two years older. It’s only been when we play for Team Belarus that we’ve been together.”

Of course, for Belarus to have talented brothers on the team is a double bonus. It means they have two good players instead of one, and it means they play better together than alone. 

“I like playing on the same line with Sergei,” Andrei agreed. “We have good knowledge of how each other plays, so I know where he’s going, and he knows where I’m going. I feel more comfortable playing with him.”

Andrei played at the 2003, 2005, and 2006 Worlds without Sergei, but in 2008 they played together in Quebec City, helping Belarus to a respectable 9th-place finish. They played again in 2012 and have been mainstays over the last four World Championships as well, 2014-17.

“When we play together for the national team, it’s not only me and my brother,” Andrei said. “We’re playing for the whole team and trying to help the team win. When I first came up to the national team, I looked up to the older guys. They were the leaders. Now I think the young guys look to us and we have to lead the way.”

Their pro careers are similarly connected. Both played in the AHL for Hamilton, in the Canadiens farm system, but they played as teammates in Montreal in 2009-10 and again in Nashville in 2011-12. After that, both players moved to the KHL but haven’t been able to play on the same team.

“We can’t play together in the KHL because players from Belarus are considered imports,” Andrei explained. “So because of limits, it’s tough for us to play together there.”

Unlike other brothers whom one might see in tandem as passer and scorer, Andrei doesn’t think there’s a big difference between his style of play and his brother’s. 

“We don’t see ourselves one as a scorer and the other as a passer,” he said. “We just play the game, and it doesn’t matter if he scores or I score. We just want to win the game.”

And with the Kostitsyns in the lineup, Belarus, with a small pool of talent from which to draw, has a much better chance of winning, that’s for sure.


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