Success a trait shared by Aurora’s Hawkinson brothers
Brad and Brian Hawkinson’s names don’t fill up hockey scoresheets, but what the brothers from Aurora bring is intangibles with a capital ‘I.’
So their hockey teams’ successful 2015-16 seasons shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Brad (a 1994 birth year) was part of the University of Denver’s run to the Frozen Four. The Pioneers bounced back from a 7-7-2 start to go 18-3-4 after that, including an 11-game winning streak.
Brian (a ’98) played a key role in the Tri-City Storm’s run to the United States Hockey League (USHL) Clark Cup championship. His role wasn’t as much reflected in points as preventing them.
“I’m not going to score 50 goals and I’m not the biggest guy, but I like to throw a lot of hits and be a pest,” he said. “When I block shots, it’s the highlight of my game. I want to be known as a two-way forward.”
He made enough of an impression that he caught the eye of several universities before committing to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
While Brian was a regular for the Storm, Brad has played sparingly because of injuries during his three seasons with the Pioneers.
“The only part I’ve been healthy was during that (second-half) run,” Brad said. “When your team is ranked that high, you can’t complain. You have to stay positive and look at the big picture and be realistic about the future. It’s been three years of injuries, but to be able to have these degrees will set me up for success, which is a motivating factor for me.”
Brad’s contributions to the Pioneers are vast, coach Jim Montgomery said.
“’Hawk’ is a great Pioneer – he bleeds crimson and gold,” Montgomery said. “He always supports his teammates whether he’s injured or healthy. He’s a fantastic teammate, extremely bright.”
After the 2016-17 school year, Brad will be one quarter away from graduating with a diploma hat trick – majors in Russian language, international studies and history. That could lead to doing intelligence work or possibly becoming a military pilot and continuing a family pattern of service.
In 2001, Chris and Linda Hawkinson sold their house in Arizona as Chris approached what he thought was his retirement from the Air Force.
Then 9/11 happened, so it was six more years flying fighter jets and searching for another house.
When the Hawkinsons arrived in Colorado in 2007, hockey helped the brothers assimilate. Brad had played house league before trying out for the Colorado Thunderbirds Bantam AAA team. He didn’t make it, but the consolation prize wasn’t bad. He joined a Littleton Hawks Bantam AA team that included Jaccob Slavin (Carolina Hurricanes), Christian Heil (Colorado College) and Landon Smith (Quinnipiac University). Brad later played for the T-Birds and Lincoln (USHL) before choosing DU
“When we lived in Arizona, I started coming up for George Gwozdecky’s hockey camps at DU,” Brad said. “It was all I knew. It was always a place I wanted to go. I was looking for what the academic side had to offer.”
Brian played Squirts for the Front Range Panthers, then Pee Wees through Midget 16U with the Thunderbirds.
“I had really good coaches throughout; I had Angelo Ricci my last two years and he really got me prepared for the USHL style and speed,” Brian said. “Cal Foote is a good friend of mine, and his dad (former Avalanche defenseman) Adam also coached. Every practice I’d learn something different to try to transfer to our game.”
Tri-City photo/Tri-City Storm;Denver photo/DU Athletics
– Chris Bayee