Steve Ginand of Milford keeps in touch with his older brother Ryan via Skype, and the two keep track of each other’s point totals over the Internet.
They live more than 4,000 miles apart, and the two members of a hockey-playing family have had plenty of good news to share the last few weeks.
A former standout on the ice at Northeastern, 26-year-old Ryan is putting up sparkling numbers in his first season with the Vipiteno Coyotes of the Series A professional league in Italy, piling up 20 goals and 17 assists in 30 games. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound forward recently scored five goals in three games, including a hat trick on Jan. 5.
Steve, a 20-year-old freshman defenseman at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, netted both of his team’s goals in a 2-1 overtime win over Babson last weekend.
“He showed the poise of a senior, going coast to coast,’’ UMass Dartmouth coach John Rolli said of the 6-foot-2, 175-pound Ginand, who was named the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference’s Player of the Week. He has 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in 11 games, with four power play tallies, and two game-winners.
The Corsairs were 8-3-1 overall, 5-1-1 in the conference, heading into last night’s match against Salve Regina.
The middle brother, Phil, 23, scored 56 points in three seasons at Division 1 Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., including 12 goals and 8 assists in 27 games last season for the Lakers. But a series of injuries, including a knee issue that required surgery, have at least temporarily put a halt to his hockey career.
Now a senior at the University of Rhode Island majoring in economics, Phil earned an 11-game amateur tryout with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League after leaving Mercyhurst.
That set up a Ginand vs. Ginand clash when Bridgeport closed out the season with a 4-3 win against the visiting Albany Devils last April. Ryan had been promoted from Trenton of the East Coast Hockey League and collected 8 points in as many games with Albany.
“That game in particular is why I have no regrets about how my career has gone,’’ said Phil, who caught the eye of the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs during a freshman college season in which he scored 15 goals and had 19 assists.
“It’s not very often you can be on the ice with a brother you once shot pucks in the driveway with in a professional game,’’ he said. “We wound up next to each other on faceoffs because our lines were matched up.’’
Both came out of the game - witnessed by their parents, Tom and Susan - with even more admiration for each other.
Ryan, who had two assists in that contest, said Phil played well, while Phil remarked: “I never really knew how good Ryan was until I played against him.’’
Mercyhurst coach Ryan Gotkin said Phil was “one of the best offensive players we had seen from the end boards to the circle.’’
As for Ryan, he was a restricted free agent at the end of last season. “I had no other options to sign with an AHL or ECHL team, so I figured, go to Italy, become a free agent and hopefully negotiate with another team next season,’’ he said.
“The European style fits my game well since the rinks are Olympic-sized and the play is east-west compared to the cycling game played in North America. I’m very proud of both my brothers. I also Skype with Steve and it’s good to see he’s successful because he’s worked hard at his game.’’
Ryan lives in Vipiteno, a town of 6,306. His closest friend, former New Hampshire player Josh Prudden of Andover, is the oldest player on the team, at 30.
“Our fans are great and hockey means a lot to them. Just picture soccer fans wearing hockey jerseys and winter gloves,’’ said Ryan.
He has taken advantage of his European venture with visits to Rome, Venice, and Milan. His parents visited him in October.
“They stayed with me and loved the view, with the Alps right in my backyard and the Dolomites 30 minutes down the road,’’ he said.
Tom Ginand said it was an experience they would never forget. “It was the perfect vacation, seeing our son play in four games while experiencing the culture.’’
Steve played for the Northern Cyclones junior team in Hudson, N.H., last season.
“I saw Ryan play in the Beanpot and Phil play for Mercyhurst and that gave me a taste of what I wanted some day,’’ he said. “Ryan and Phil have supported me each step of my career.’’