The morning before Team USA’s pre-tournament game against Germany on May 6, U.S. forward Luke Tuch happened to be sitting next to his team’s game jerseys.
Amped with excitement of being able to represent his country as well as play alongside his older brother, Alex, Luke was curious what the sweaters looked like for the 2023 IIHF Men’s World Championship.
“I looked at my jersey and it said, ‘L. Tuch,’” Luke said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I got the initial.’ I don’t think Alex got the initial. Sometimes they’ll do that, the younger brother with the initial and the older one not. Then I look at Al’s and it says, ‘A. Tuch.’ We were just laughing. We thought it was just hilarious.”
“This is the first time we’ve ever had an initial in front of our names on the back of the jerseys,” Alex said.
The Tuchs — who are six years apart in age — are getting a chance to play on the same team for the first time in their hockey careers.
That extra letter inscribed on the back of their jerseys means everything.
“I’ve always wanted to play with Alex at some point, but I never knew if it was really going to happen,” said Luke, who is 21-years-old and a junior at Boston University. “Sometimes the stars align just perfectly, and representing the USA on an international stage and playing with my brother knocks out two birds with one stone.”
Alex, who turned 27 on May 10, recently wrapped up his seventh season in the NHL. He has an extremely tight relationship with his brother.
“Hockey is something that we’ve put in so much time and effort individually and together, we’re constantly talking about hockey,”said Alex, who put up 79 points (36 goals, 43 assists) this season for the Buffalo Sabres. “We’re very close. Even though we’re six years apart, I’d say we’re very close and hockey’s one of the main reasons why. We both grew up skating on our backyard ice rink, and I wouldn’t say it was a competitive atmosphere because of the age difference, but we still screwed around and it was a lot of fun.
Alex has paved the way in many regards on the ice for Luke.
Growing up, Alex played for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program for two seasons from 2012-14. Six years later, Luke laced up for the NTDP for two seasons. Both also got a chance to play for Team USA at Under-17 Five Nations tournaments.
The brothers from Baldwinsville, New York, took different paths for college. Alex, a first-round pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2014, played two seasons at Boston College before jumping to the NHL. Luke, a second-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 2020, has skated at rival Boston University for the last three years.
“He’s been probably the most influential person in my hockey career,” Luke said about Alex. “Everything he did, I wanted to do. I’ve always strived to be like him.”
There’s a natural sibling rivalry between the two, which only intensified once the BC-BU rivalry got involved in the family. But all that goes away when they’re on the same team.
“There is some brotherly love mixed in,” Alex said. “But it’s not like I’m not cheering for him to win during the season because he plays for the Terriers. I still hope the best for him. He’s my brother and I love him, so I hope he has nothing but the most amount of success possible."
Alex, like Luke, is excited to play with his brother.
“This might be the only time you never really know what’s going to happen in the future. We’re both really excited,” said Alex, who helped the U.S. win gold in the IIHF U18 Men’s World Championship in 2014.
Prior to the tournament, there wasn’t any talk between Alex and Luke and the team’s coaches about what the chances are the brothers could be on the same shift or line. Both guys, who are forwards, are content with whatever the coaching staff decides.
“It’s a long tournament, there’s a lot of games, so you never know what will happen during the tournament,” Alex said. “It’s something that I hope I get at least a few shifts with him, but it’s not our place. It’s up to the coaching staff to see who they want to put in for the games and the lineups and stuff like that. I’m not one to go in and demand I play with my little brother by any means, but it would be something that we would both really cherish if we were able to be on the ice together.”
Luke, making his world championship debut, said it would be awesome if he hopped on the ice and realized his dream of getting to play with his brother. Relatives of the Tuchs wouldn’t mind seeing that, too.
“First time my parents can watch my brother and I at the same place at the same time,” Luke said. “Alex and I have practiced together in the past and we have pretty good chemistry. It would be more of a teammate to teammate, not a brother to brother aspect. Maybe like the old days in practice when we were bickering at each other.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.