Merrimack College men’s hockey forward Tristan Crozier says a majority of the time, he is his brother Max’s biggest fan. The exception being when the Warriors face Hockey East foes Providence College, which Max just happens to be a defenseman for.
“We’ve got a great relationship,” said Tristan, who joined Merrimack this season as a graduate student-athlete after playing at Brown University. “It’s been great to watch Max grow over the past three and a half years, but any time we play PC I’m looking to beat him.”
As of Jan. 6, No. 8 Merrimack and No. 11 Providence have split the season series one game each, with the Warriors winning 3-2 at Providence on Dec. 10, and the Friars upending Merrimack 6-1 on Dec. 30. The teams face each other again in North Andover on Friday, Jan. 13, and Saturday, Jan. 14.
“When I am able to step on the ice against Tristan it always puts a smile on my face and brings me back to when we were kids,” said Max. “It’s definitely something I cherish.”
Playing different positions on the ice, the Croziers have different games. Tristan said his younger brother is bigger and faster than he is, but added, “If we ever get into a corner together, I’m coming out with the puck every time.”
“He doesn’t find his way to the corner very often,” Max responded with a laugh. “Tristan is a very strong player. When he has the puck it is tough to get it off of him and I’ve known that since we were kids.”
One person who played a significant role in bringing Tristan to New England and launching this fun family rivalry was Josh Ciocco, Merrimack’s assistant coach who passed away this past October. Ciocco was an assistant at Brown and recruited Tristan there, and Ciocco was the first coach to call Tristan when he entered the transfer portal.
“(Josh) was definitely one of the driving factors in my college hockey career,” Tristan said. “I am grateful and happy for the small amount of time we were able to have together.”
For the upcoming series at Merrimack, Tristan and Max will have two special fans they will be playing in front of: their parents Jim and Kerry Crozier. It was in the basement of the family’s first home in North Vancouver where Tristan and Max’s love for hockey began when, still in diapers, they played mini sticks with their dad. From Vancouver the family moved to Calgary, where they had an outdoor rink in the backyard during the winter.
“In general, both boys and their sister (Julianne) played many team sports growing up,” said Jim. “But I would say hockey is absolutely our family favorite. One of our fondest family memories is around the Christmas season when we would all be playing hockey together in the backyard.”
And when the puck drops at Lawler Arena, Kerry said they will be cheering for both their sons to have successful shifts and contribute to their respective teams. “When they are playing each other we are neutral fans,” she added. “We just want them to do the right thing for their teams.”
“We are extremely proud of each of them,” added Jim. “The path to NCAA hockey is not easy and after working hard on the ice and in the gym, recovering from injuries, developing a healthy mindset, one is still not guaranteed an opportunity. We are deeply appreciative and fortunate that some schools took notice of them and recruited them.”