Rivalry not an issue for NCAA sibling duos

By Tom Schreier

Tyler Motte - University of Michigan

Photo: University of Michigan forward and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Tyler Motte has been productive as a freshman, picking up nine points (5G, 4A) in 18 games for the Wolverines (courtesy of Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

NCAA players Tyler Motte, Thomas Di Pauli, and Danny O’Regan all have something in common.

It’s not that they are all in the same class as Motte is a freshman, while Di Pauli and O’Regan are sophomores. Nor are they teammates, since Motte plays for the University of Michigan, Di Pauli is at Notre Dame, and O’Regan plays for Boston University.

And they were all drafted by different NHL teams – Motte went to the Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Draft, Di Pauli was selected by the Washington Capitals (fourth round, 2012), and O’Regan went to the San Jose Sharks a round later in 2012.

The common thread that these three skaters have, besides being elite collegiate hockey players, is that they also have an older brother playing collegiate hockey: C.J. Motte is a junior goaltender at Ferris State, Theo Di Pauli is a sophomore forward at Union College, and Tommy O’Regan is a junior winger for Harvard.

Tyler is a ’95 birthday while C.J. is a ’91, making theirs the biggest age difference of the three sibling pairs. Both Di Pauli boys are sophomores, but Thomas is a ’94 and Theo is a ’93. Danny (’94) is also a year younger than his brother, Tommy.

Another similarity is that all three younger siblings feel that their older brother is the better player.

It’s hard to compare C.J. and Tyler because the former is a goaltender and the latter is a forward, but the Di Pauli and O’Regan boys are both skaters.

“I always thought he was better,” said Thomas Di Pauli, “so I had to keep up with him and that always pushed me to be better. He’s always been better, I thought.”

“We’re similar,” says Danny O’Regan when describing his brother, Tommy. “He’s got a few inches and some weight on me. He’s really skilled, he’s probably”–he pauses–“I think he’s way more skilled than me.”

Tyler cannot really compare himself to his brother, but he says that C.J. is the reason why he got into hockey.

“When I was younger, I wanted to be just like my older brother, like many younger brothers,” he says. “Just seeing him succeed, and we kind of succeeded in different ways, it has definitely motivated me along the way.”

The Motte and O’Regan boys have gotten to play against each other, as they both play for schools located in the same state. Ferris State is located in Big Rapids, MI, which is an hour northwest of Ann Arbor, and Boston University and Harvard are less than 10 minutes away from one another.

Tyler’s Wolverines got the best of C.J.’s Bulldogs in overtime, but C.J. shut down Tyler in the shootout. Knowing that his younger brother favors the backhand, C.J. anticipated Tyler’s best move and was allowed to walk away with bragging rights, even though his team had lost. “He stopped me on my best move,” Tyler told MLive.com. “I didn’t get the puck up as high as I wanted to, so I tip my cap to him.”

“It was a great experience,” said Motte, reflecting on the game. “Looking back on it now, it was a great experience to play against each other. It was really special.”

Harvard has gotten the best of Boston University each time the O’Regan boys have played, but Danny insists that it is still fun to play against Tommy when the two neighboring schools clashed.

“We always grew up as best friends, really close, never really fought or anything,” says Danny. “It was kind of weird playing against him last year. We’re competitive, but it’s all laughs after the game, no matter what happens.”

Thomas Di Pauli has never faced his brother Theo. Union is a small college (enrollment: 2100) in the ECAC with the Ivy League schools. Notre Dame moved from the CCHA to Hockey East last year, placing them closer to the Ivies, but the Fighting Irish and Dutchmen have yet to play each other.

Union College is located in Schenectady, N.Y., 700 miles away from South Bend, meaning that it is unlikely that the two schools would meet in the regular season. Both are nationally ranked teams, however, and Union went on a miracle run last year, so there is a chance that the two will meet up in the postseason.

By most conventional measures, all three younger brothers are the better players. All three were at the USA Hockey's World Junior camp in Minneapolis in December and, unlike their older siblings, all three are NHL Draft picks. But there’s no convincing any of them that they could even potentially be better than the older brother that they looked up to growing up.

“He played well so far, has a lot of confidence,” Tyler Motte said of his brother C.J., who was undefeated when Tyler was at the World Junior camp. “He’s an undersized guy, but playing against him you realize how hard he competes — every shot, every rebound, things like that. I’m looking for him to get some looks from some NHL teams.”

With a scouting report like that, how could they pass on him?

Tom Schreier writes about the Twins, Wild, and Wolves for Yahoo Contributor Network. He previously covered Minnesota sports for Bleacher Report and can be heard on 105 The Ticket in the Twin Cities. Followed him on Twitter @tschreier3.