On any tight-knit team, the bonds forged between teammates are often referred to as a brotherhood.
Although the Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team is a tight group, there is one brotherly bond that is especially strong, shared between senior forward Kohl Bauml and the team’s biggest fan — his brother Ben.
During Bauml’s run with the Huskies, the team has enjoyed many successes, including two conference titles and five straight appearances at nationals. Ben has been alongside his brother and the rest of the team through it all.
“He was one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, why I came back to play for the University of Saskatchewan,” Bauml, who spent his four-year Western Hockey League career with the Silvertips in Everett, Wash., said.
“Having everyone here embrace him the way that they embraced me and kind of saying if I’m here then he’s here at the same time — it’s kind of a package deal.”
Huskies head coach Dave Adolph says family is important to his team.
“Family’s a big part of these hockey players, you know,” he said.
“They’re away from their families so much when they play junior, and they get an opportunity to come home. We want to embrace that. It’s special with Ben, but we want to make sure that it’s special for everybody.”
Ben, who has Down syndrome and is non-verbal, has been fully embraced by Adolph and all the Huskies teammates Bauml has had over the last five seasons. Ben attends all home games, sitting in the same seat next to the same group of people while also joining the team in the dressing room for post-victory celebrations.
“He loves the Huskies as much as anybody does. He gets all of the under gear, all of the T-shirts, sweaters that we get; he feels like he’s part of it,” Bauml said.
“He loves winning just as much as any of us do. He comes down after every game, and he’s coming in, he’s high-fiving, he’s giving me a big hug; as soon as the music starts, he’s in there.
“When we lose, he’s probably the one who’s the most mad, so he’s a true blue Huskies fan, and it’s awesome to see him having as much fun as we are.”
Ben is such an important part of the team that Adolph made sure he was sitting front and centre for the team’s Canada West Championship photo.
“To have Dave bring him out and just to say: ‘Whoa, whoa, guys, we’re missing a piece here,’ it just shows how much Ben means to both Dave and our team,” Bauml said.
“That was very special to me, to have our head coach, with all of the emotions of winning and everything to kind of pause and stop and say: ‘We’re missing Ben’ was very special to see for me, personally.”
The Huskies head coach wouldn’t have had the picture any other way.
Aside from making sure Ben was present for his second Canada West Championship picture — Bauml also won as a rookie in 2016 — Adolph went one step further to make the experience that much more memorable for the younger brother by giving him his gold medal.
“Who’s it going to be more special for? For me or him? For him,” Adolph said.
Bauml said the move was in character for Adolph.
“I always say that Dave would give the shirt off of his back to anyone,” Bauml said.
“To see that, I asked him after the game, like, ‘Dave, do you want that medal back? Like, this is your Canada West Championship.’ He goes: ‘Oh, no, that’s Ben’s. He earned it, he deserves it; I want to see him have that thing for the rest of his life.’
“It just shows how much he cares for his players and for Ben at the same time, so it’s pretty special to see.”