David Toews and his Olympic gold medal and Stanley Cup champion brother Jonathan were at it again Sunday, just like the old times on the backyard rink their father Brian built for them in St. Vital.
Only this time, it was on the lush fairways and greens at Niakwa Golf and Country Club. The season and the place was different, but as they prepared to tee off, it was clear neither was going to give up any gimmes to his brother.
With the summer winding down, it was one of the last outings the brothers would have before Jonathan heads back for Chicago and his Blackhawks of the NHL and David heads west to suit up with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL.
They'll be on different sheets of ice this winter, but if things go according to plan, the two will face each other again in the 2011-2012 NHL season when David moves up with the New York Islanders.
After two seasons playing at the University of North Dakota,, David, 20, decided to play in Brandon this year as an overage player. "It's been signed and it's a done deal," he said Saturday. "I believe it will be a great advantage for me to concentrate on my hockey and professional career."
A sixth-round selection of the Wheat Kings (117th overall) in the 2005 WHL bantam draft, the Winnipeg right-winger was a third-round pick (66th overall) of the Islanders in the 2008 NHL entry draft.
While with the Fighting Sioux, David had four goals and 15 points in 2009-10, and at the end of last year's season, he had a two-year total of nine goals and 26 points in 55 games.
He played his minor hockey with the Dakota Lazers, St. Vital Victorias and Winnipeg Warriors, then scored 100 points, including 44 goals in 51 games, at Shattuck-St. Marys in 2007-08.
David says he is eager to get to Brandon, as this is the year he intends to prepare himself for the NHL. "North Dakota is a great program," he said. "It was a tough choice to leave school, but I thought I needed to be in Brandon. It is the best place for my development. Brandon will help me to adjust to the pro game, because my mindset will be completely focused on hockey, not school. Not that school is bad, but you tend to focus more on one thing than the other. This way, I can completely focus on hockey."
He's also eager to get on with competing with his older brother again, but that will take another year. "I'd love to play against him, and be competitive with him again. Just playing for those bragging rights. The backyard was one thing, but on that (NHL) level it would be a dream come true."
"We've always been competitive, whether it is playing golf or hockey together," said Jonathan, 22. "I don't want my little brother to get the best of me, but I know we'll both be very proud of each other when we get the chance to play each other at that level."
Jonathan usually held the edge over his brother on their backyard rink, but David recalled one day when he was about 10 years old, when he reversed the outcome. "I finally beat him, and then had to duck behind a snowbank because he started shooting pucks at me."
Is there pressure to live up to his brother's fame? "It's always going to be there. Lots of people would like to see me do as well as my brother," he said. "But I am a different person, and I'll take it one step at a time. It will take a long time before I can be in the same class as him."
Toews is one of several players competing for the three overage spots on this year's Wheaties roster.