Now that bond of brothers is helping the Huskies pursue a national title.
Reunited on the ice for the first time since suiting up together with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League back in 2012, the Forsberg brothers are playing key roles for the nationally-ranked University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team which hopes to capture the Canada West conference and the national championship this year.
“That’s always the goal and it would be pretty amazing,” said Jesse, a 24-year-old dynamic defenceman and alternate captain who is now in his fourth season with the Huskies while studying agriculture at the U of S. “Obviously, winning nationals is something that is pretty hard to do and it has been a long time since the Huskies have done it, and to be able to share that with my brother would be pretty special.”
The Forsberg brothers are one of 14 sets of successful siblings suiting up for Huskie teams this season, including: Caleb and Thomas Eidsvik (football); Brianna and Christy Fehr (women’s basketball); Cassidy (football) and Taylor Follensbee (women’s wrestling); Jordan and Kendall Fransoo (men’s hockey); Ali (women’s soccer) and Julieanne Labach (women’s soccer, track and field); Katelyn and Karson Lehner (track and field); Amy and Naomi Manske (track and field); Joseph and Jacob Powell (men’s soccer); David and Jacob Solie (football); Malcolm and Erik Thakurdeen (football); Ben (football), Thomas (football) and Sam Whiting (men’s soccer); Randi (women’s wrestling) and Jackson Wiegers (women’s soccer); and Kaitlin and Morgan Willoughby (women’s hockey).
For Jesse Forsberg, the choice to come to the U of S was an easy one.
“I love Saskatchewan and the Huskies are a top-tier program where I knew I would have the best shot at winning,” he said. “And I am also an agriculture student and where better to go for that than the U of S? Saskatchewan is the pinnacle for agriculture.”
For Alex, a skilled first-year forward who capped his career in the WHL by finishing in the top 10 in league scoring, coming to the U of S and joining his older brother on the Huskies was also the right decision.
“It was an easy choice,” said Alex, a 23-year-old arts and science student who is applying to get into education. “I realized that if I wasn’t going to go pro, I was going to come to the U of S. Obviously, Jesse is on the team and that was a big reason. But I also have lots of friends who I have played with on the team, so it was easy to come home.”
Perhaps no one is happier to see the Forsbergs back together again than parents Blaine and Joanna, both graduates of the U of S who now make the short 50-kilometre trip from home in Waldheim north of Saskatoon to watch their sons suit up for the Huskies.
“I think they really appreciate it,” said Jesse, who led all Canada West blue-liners in scoring last season while being named the league’s top defenceman and a second-team all-Canadian. “A lot of us that kind of grew up together are on this team, so it’s fun for all the parents to come out and watch us.”
The Forsbergs’ familiarity with each other can also give them an edge on the ice.
“I think just being around him all the time, you know what his tendencies are and what he wants to accomplish on the ice,” said Alex. “And off the ice, having my brother here has helped make the transition to university a lot easier and I owe him a lot for that.”
Like most siblings, the brothers butt heads at times, but their bond has grown stronger over the years.
“We’ve always been super close, but we definitely do have our outbursts, if you ask anyone,” said Jesse, with a chuckle. “We hold each other accountable, and when we go to the rink we feel we’re teammates rather than brothers. But when we are off the ice, it’s like having a best buddy around all the time. We live together, so we spend a lot of time together.”
Now, the Forsbergs are hoping to win a Canadian championship together with a talent-laden Huskies team that finished second at nationals in 2017. But in the always-competitive Canada West conference, just getting to nationals is a challenge.
“We have a great team and there are big expectations this year, but we know there is a long road ahead,” said Alex. “We want to see how far we can go.”