Brendan van Riemsdyk is becoming a regular chip off the old block as he follows in the footsteps of his two older siblings.
The 17-year-old center, the youngest of three brothers, including James (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Trevor (University of New Hampshire), scored the decisive goal for Christian Brothers Academy of Lincroft, N.J., on Saturday in a 5-2 victory over Delbarton in the championship of the 55th annual Gordon Cup at Codey Arena in West Orange, N.J.
The win enabled CBA to earn its first Gordon title since 2010 and its seventh overall. The loss snapped Delbarton's in-state unbeaten streak at 66 games (62-0-4), the longest in state history. Van Riemsdyk's goal, off a rebound midway through the second period, gave CBA (21-2-2) a 3-1 lead.
"We knew what we had to do with our game plan [against Delbarton] and stuck to it the whole game," van Riemsdyk told The Newark Star-Ledger after Saturday's game. "We never let down when we got our lead. We just knew that we couldn't just defend the lead, but just keep attacking and keep it in their zone."
Like his brothers, the 6-foot-3, 189-pound native of Middletown, N.J., will attend the University of New Hampshire in the fall of 2015 or '16. James attended CBA through his sophomore year before joining the National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., and UNH for two seasons. Trevor, the only defenseman of the three, graduated from CBA in the spring of 2009 and is now in his sophomore year at UNH. He has seven goals and 25 points in 30 games for the Wildcats.
As a sophomore at CBA in 2005, James scored the overtime clincher in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Associations parochial school championship game, also against Delbarton. In Trevor's senior year, CBA lost to Delbarton in the final. Brendan, a junior at CBA, is looking for a successful finish this season with the state tournament in full swing.
"During the lockout, I got to see a couple games," James van Riemsdyk told NHL.com. "I'm happy to see [Brendan] coming along. He's still really raw, growing into his body. He's really gangly and kind of a little bit awkward … like I was at that age. He's growing into his body and he's got a lot of potential."
Brendan is similar to James in that they are both left-shot forwards with good size. James was listed at 6-foot-3, 187 pounds when he joined the U.S. NTDP at the age of 16. But while Brendan did earn a spot with the 2010 USA Select 14, and 2011 Select 15 development camps, he was not chosen for the 2012 Select 16 camp.
"I'm happy to see [Brendan] coming along. He's still really raw, growing into his body. ... He's got a lot of potential."
-- Maple Leafs' forward James van Riemsdyk on his brother Brendan
James was asked if Brendan reaches out to him, on occasion, for any brotherly advice.
"He doesn't really ask for much advice," James said. "I think he watches me and my other brother closely and sees how we handle situations or how we go about our business. He's learned a lot through that. I think I've tried when I've gone to watch him play, especially if I notice some things.
"If I knew some of the things I know now back then, I'd start working on them already. I've tried to help him with that kind of stuff. Just do what I can to help him because I think he's got a pretty bright future ahead of him."
There's a good chance Brendan will continue his hockey career in the Eastern Junior Hockey League next season in an attempt to improve his overall game against top-caliber competition. He's eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, which will be held at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.
James was drafted by the Flyers with the second overall pick in the 2007 Draft. He was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs last June.