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Prep hockey: Notre Dame's Sam McCormick follows his brother's lead


1:00 AM, Sep. 09, 2013 EDT

Notre Dame Academy's Sam McCormick (17) attempts to stop a pass from Sheboygan Red Raider's Collin Peters (20) in a game on Dec. 16, 2011 in Sheboygan. / Gary C. Klein/The Sheboygan Press

Sam McCormick is used to hearing the comparisons.

The Green Bay Notre Dame junior knows his hockey career always will be linked with his older brother, Max, whose list of accomplishments includes being named Wisconsin's Mr. Hockey in 2010 and getting selected by the Ottawa Senators in the 2011 NHL entry draft.

"Sometimes it gets old, but it's nice in a way because it's a big motivator to achieve the goals he has in his career," said McCormick, who made the decision Sunday to follow in his big brother's footsteps by giving a commitment to play at Ohio State.

The 5-foot-9, 162-pound forward made a visit to the campus over the weekend and watched the Buckeyes' football game Saturday with his parents and Max, who was the Ohio State hockey team's third-leading scorer as a sophomore last season.

"I really like Ohio State from what my brother has told me," McCormick said. "When I went down there and got to see the rink and go to the football game and saw the campus, I just knew it was a good fit for me."

McCormick is the second Notre Dame junior to make a commitment to a Big Ten team, joining defenseman Tony Stillwell, who gave one to Wisconsin in July.

The pair of 1997 birth-year players made the 30-man roster for the USHL's Sioux City Musketeers during the summer along with Notre Dame senior Brett Gruber.

After Max tallied 42 points for Sioux City and was a USHL all-star during the 2010-11 season, the Musketeers traded for the USHL rights to Sam in Phase II of the league's draft in May.

"There's always going to be the comparison between Sam and Max," Notre Dame coach Cory McCracken said. "But Ohio State liked Sam as a player regardless of Max being in the program or not.

"(Sam) lived, ate and breathed hockey all summer long to put himself in a position to have the success he is having now. It doesn't come by having the last name of McCormick. It comes from all the work he is putting in."

Sam is the captain on the Team Wisconsin U-16 squad and had a strong showing in May at the USA Hockey select player development camp for his age group in Rochester, N.Y.

While his last name warrants the comparisons, the younger McCormick brother brings a different style of play to the ice at this point in his career.

"Sam is already a little more mature physically than Max was," McCracken said. "He's had a chance to be in a little more elite environment at an earlier age than Max was just because there are more opportunities now.

"Off the ice, they are pretty similar at this age level because they work really, really hard at their game. On the ice, Max was a late-developing hockey player and grew tremendously during his junior and senior seasons of high school. He went from being a 5-foot-6, 130-pound kid as a sophomore to a 5-foot-11, 175-pound kid by the time he graduated."

Max played all four years of high school at Notre Dame before going to Sioux City for one season and then making the jump to Ohio State.

It remains to be seen whether Sam will be capable of making the jump to the USHL for his senior year and possibly entering Ohio State in 2015.

"That is all dependent on when Ohio State projects him to come into their program and how quickly Sam develops physically," McCracken said. "It's not out of the question that Sam will play in Sioux City his senior year, but I think there is a lot of work that needs to be done yet, and I think Sam is extremely motivated to put that work in."

 

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