Schmaltz brothers enjoy their give-and-take relationship
Schmaltz brothers stick together in hockey and life
There's nothing like having a brother you are close to. Most of the memories have faded now, but I can still recall walking across the street to the elementary school playground and taking on my bro in countless 1-on-1 basketball games.
In the dark. With one light barely illuminating the court. In subfreezing temperatures.
Why? Just because. Because we're brothers.
Jordan and Nick Schmaltz have many similar memories, playing basketball, soccer, football and hockey together while growing up in Madison, Wisconsin.
Their most memorable athletic interaction came two years ago when Jordan and Nick played on the same hockey team at the University of North Dakota.
"That was probably the coolest experience I've had in my hockey career -- just being able to play with your brother who you played in the basement or on the pond and every summer with," Jordan said. "That was awesome."
Said Nick: "It was one of the best years of my life playing with him."
Now, the two bros are playing pro hockey in arenas that are less than 20 miles apart, with 20-year-old Nick playing forward for the Blackhawks at the United Center and 23-year-old Jordan playing defense for the Chicago Wolves at the Allstate Arena.
They've clashed three times head-to-head, once in the preseason at the UC and twice more when Nick was reassigned to Rockford earlier in the season.
"It was pretty fun to play a full game against him," Nick said. "We were pretty friendly out there."
Whoa, whoa, whoa … not so fast.
Jordan, you see, was called for tripping Nick early in the third period of their second meeting on Jan. 6.
"Soft call for sure," Jordan said.
Older brother that he is, Jordan clearly had to give Nick a difficult time. Does he confront him in the hallway or shoot him a text?
Even better ...
"I was chirping him on the ice right after. Next shift," Jordan said. "I was like, 'C'mon, man. That's BS. Stay on your feet.' "
Nick, of course, pleaded not guilty.
"I was kind of laughing because it wasn't a dive, but it might have been a little bit," Nick said. "Might as well try and get a power play out of it, right?"
That's a brother for you -- able to love, and mock, ridicule, taunt, torment and annoy in equal doses.
Nick's path to the NHL was a bit quicker than Jordan's, mainly because the Blackhawks had so many forward spots to fill after last season.
Jordan, on the other hand, has been biding his time with the Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-shot defenseman was taken by St. Louis in the first round of the 2012 draft (25th overall) and spent all of last season with the Wolves, scoring 6 goals and dishing out 30 assists in 71 games.
The Blues sent him to the Wolves as one of the last cuts as this preseason ended, and he missed the first two months with an upper-body injury.
Jordan is a puck-moving D-man who might become a useful piece on the Blues' power play in future years.
"You've just got to stay the course, as frustrating as it can be. Right now (St. Louis is) really deep on the right side for defensemen," Jordan said. "Just look at their roster -- they're probably one of the best teams defensively. It's tough.
"But you've got to pay your dues and treat it as it's a journey. Enjoy it. … Keep trying to get better every day and hopefully you get up there."
Nick has no doubt he'll be facing his brother one day in the NHL, and as division rivals they could see quite a bit of each other in the coming years.
"He's playing really well down there," Nick said. "I just hope he gets a chance. I know he can play at (this) level. … Eventually he'll get here.
"(Blackhawks-Blues is) one of the biggest rivals in hockey, so to have him on that team would be pretty fun and pretty intense."
Fun. And intense. Sound about right, Jordan?
"It'll be intense, it'll be fun. Chirps and stuff like that. So yeah, it'll be cool."
Brother, you'd better believe it.
Stats of Nick and Jordan Schmaltz, starting with their days together at North Dakota in 2014-15.
Jordan Schmaltz, defensemanSeason, team GP G A Pts. +/-
2014-15, UND 42 4 24 28 +11
2015-16, Wolves 71 6 30 36 -10
2016-17, Wolves 30 3 16 19 -2
Nick Schmaltz, forwardSeason, team GP G A Pts. +/-
2014-15, UND 38 5 21 26 +3
2015-16, UND 37 11 35 46 +44
2016-17, Hawks 32 3 4 7 -3
2016-17, RFD 12 6 3 9 -4
UND -- University of North Dakota
RFD -- Rockford IceHogs