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It's a sibling revelry at Boston University

by Bob Snow
When Frank and Peggy Gilroy and family sit down to Thanksgiving dinner in their new Sudbury, Mass,. home this week, there will be a whole lot to be happy about.

They made the move from the family's roots on Long Island to the Boston suburb of Sudbury last spring for one reason -- "To do their laundry," said Peggy jokingly about the move to enjoy the most unique experience for any hockey family.

Two Gilroy sons, Matt and Kevin, donned the red-and-white jerseys of Boston University this season to play their respective senior and freshman seasons together.  

"It's a wonderful experience for all of us," she quickly followed in a serious tone. "A great program to be involved with. Good tradition and great coaches. Just a great opportunity for two brothers to play together."

Touted as a national-championship contender since the season began, BU is led by older-brother Matt Gilroy, captain and two-time All-American on the Terriers' blue line, who has earned recognition as the best defenseman in the country and arguably one of the best on paper in college history.

Coach Jack Parker has five NHL draftees among his six defensemen -- BU has a total of 14 -- of which the 24-year-old Matt is the only non-draftee. Brian Strait, Colby Cohen, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Warsofsky and Eric Gryba round out that defensive corps.

"Having Matt return to play with his brother is a big boost to our team," Parker said. "The minute he decided to come back, I knew he'd make a great captain. I don't think we'd be picked where we are without him."

Matt is in the company of former Terriers Tom Poti and Ryan Whitney, the new breed of puck-rushing defensemen who can control the transition game out of their zone.

For Matt, the past two seasons were not without opportunities to leave Commonwealth Avenue for greener NHL pastures.

"It's all about this year," Matt said. "We went through the decision-making process twice after my sophomore year and it was better staying. We put all the pros and cons down on a piece of paper with my parents."

One of the major reasons to forego the pro game until next year -- when the 25-year-old Gilroy will be basically an unrestricted free agent because of his age in the NHL collective bargaining agreement -- was the opportunity to play with younger brother Kevin.

"I always wanted to play in the NHL," Gilroy said. "But there are certain things that come along. BU came along and now I've had four years here and being captain. And I never had a shot to play with Kev. I played with my older brother, Frank, and my brother who passed away, but never had a chance to play with Kev."

"I wanted to play at BU ever since he came," Kevin said. "When he thought about going pro, I said, 'Matt, if I come here, I want you to be here with me.' He said, 'I'll be there if you come.' It's awesome."

"Hopefully, the boys can keep their end of the bargain, respect the sweater and do a good job," said Frank Gilroy, who played college basketball at St. John's and was drafted by the 76ers. "Don't leave anything out there. What you do here stays with you the rest of your life."

Matt has been a plus-16 and plus-17 the past two seasons with 62 points in his career heading into last weekend, including 18 goals. He has 1 goal and 6 assists this season. 

"It's a wonderful experience for all of us. A great program to be involved with. Good tradition and great coaches. Just a great opportunity for two brothers to play together."
-- Peggy Gilroy, mother of BU players Matt and Kevin

Kevin notched his first career goal last month in his second game, a 7-2 thumping of Michigan.

The biggest challenge for little brother?

"Really buckle down and get things going," said Kevin. "Obviously, people will say, 'That's Matt's little brother,' and that's pressure. But Matt says, 'Just be you. Make a name for yourself and play your game not mine.' "

The easiest thing?

"He's got my back," said Kevin. "I've got his back."

It is the back of each Gilroy jersey that tells the tale of tragedy and triumph for this family that once had 10 children; now eight with the loss of two in childhood.

"I lost two brothers in Brian and Timmy," said Matt. "I wear No. 97; that was Timmy's number when he played Mites hockey. He was killed in a bike accident when he was 7."

Brian passed away shortly after birth from hospital complications.

"I wear No. 16 for 1997; 9 plus 7 equals 16," said Kevin about his tribute.

"We need that type of character in our dressing room," said Parker about his captain.

On Campus Clips -- Heading into Thanksgiving weekend, just five points separate the top six teams in the WCHA standings, and six points separate the top seven. Minnesota leads the MacNaughton Cup race with 15 points, followed by Colorado College, Minnesota State, Wisconsin, Denver, Alaska Anchorage and North Dakota. ... Conversely, Air Force has ballooned to an 11-point spread between themselves and second-place Bentley University. Air Force's 12-0-0 record will be tested this weekend when the Falcons host WCHA powerhouses Colorado College tomorrow night at home before traveling to Denver to take on the Pioneers on Saturday. ... Seven of Alaska-Fairbanks' 12 games this season have resulted in a shutout; Alaska is 4-3-0 in those games. Only the CCHA adopted the shootout rule to determine league standings. ... There have been a total of 60 tie games thus far across the other five conferences. ... Nominations for the 14th annual Hockey Humanitarian Award that recognizes "Hockey's finest citizen" are open through Dec. 19.

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