PLYMOUTH, Mich. - Jordan Greenway and James Greenway are used to being long distances apart during the hockey season. But this December they have a chance to change that.
The brothers were two of 41 players taking part in the 2016 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., this week. It's the first step in picking the United States team for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, which will be played in Toronto and Montreal from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.
James was one of 10 cuts from the camp Tuesday, but they still have a chance to become the third set of brothers to play for the U.S. at the WJC, following Peter Ferraro and Chris Ferraro in 1992 and 1993, and Neal Broten and Aaron Broten in 1979.
Jordan, 19, is a 6-foot-6, 226-pound left wing who was selected by the Minnesota Wild in the second round (No. 50) of the 2015 NHL Draft. James, an 18-year-old defenseman (6-5, 213), was picked by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third round (No. 72) of the 2016 draft.
The Greenway brothers are 14 months apart in age but it's been enough distance to keep them on separate teams for most of their hockey careers.
"Growing up in our hometown [in New York], we probably played together for five or six years, but when we were really young," Jordan said Monday. "I left to go to Shattuck [St. Mary's School in Minnesota] in eighth grade so it was all before then. We'd play summer teams together but that's about it."
Video: Highlights from the National Junior Evaluation Camp
James followed Jordan, first to Shattuck and then to the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., but because of their age they never played on the same team. When James moved to the NTDP Under-18 team last season, Jordan was a freshman at Boston University.
"We would FaceTime or call each other," James said. "Before this, the last time I saw him was Christmas. We're away, we're separated for a long time."
The brothers grew up close because of their age and similar love of hockey. But the battles between two rapidly growing athletes caused a bit more than the usual sibling rivalry.
"When we were younger he always had the upper hand and I had a short temper," James said. "I'd always get an extra whack or push him, and that always ended up with me getting beat up. But I'd always start it."
Said Jordan, "I beat him every time because I'm the older one. But he does really well. He's been doing great growing up and he's gotten a lot better. Definitely gives me a lot of competition."
Their battles have matured as they've gotten older but they're no less intense.
"In the summers, if it's just me and him, it's one-on-one all the time," James said. "That's what makes me better and him. That's the competition. I don't want him to get by me and he wants to get by me. That's where the competition comes up."
During the first two days of the NJEC camp, both players have turned that competitive drive on the competition.
Jordan, playing for USA Blue, had a breakaway goal in the second period of a 6-4 win against Sweden on Monday. He had an assist and three shots on goal in an 8-2 defeat of Finland on Sunday.
James, with USA White, assisted on the first goal in a 6-3 loss to Sweden on Sunday. He carried the puck in from the left point into the slot and found an open Kieffer Bellows (New York Islanders). He had one shot on goal in an 8-2 win against Finland on Monday.
"[Jordan] today had a tremendous day, imposed his will all over the rink," U.S. coach Bob Motzko said. "Scored a great goal, had another great chance on a shorthanded play. And did it playing such a physical game. And hard on the puck but was never in danger of taking any penalties. He played a great, honest game. That was exciting to see today what he did there. [James] yesterday had a really great start to the tournament, setting up that first goal. He played with confidence.
"They're big, imposing bodies that make things happen."
Jordan and James will go back to dealing with the distance between them; Jordan will return to BU and James starts as a freshman at the University of Wisconsin.
They could have finally been college teammates, but James said he feels ready to start blazing his own trail.
"I always seem to be following him, going to Shattuck, coming here," he said. "But I'm at the age where I don't really need him pointing me in the right direction. I figure I can go to Wisconsin, I know the coaches, I'm comfortable with them. Time for me to start my own path."
Both brothers hope that path leads to Toronto and Montreal this winter.
"It would mean the absolute world," Jordan said. "Playing [with James] on any other team would be great too. But playing for your country and being on the same team, that's even better."