Some of the best times of Josh Niedermayer’s hockey life have included playing with his brother and when the 2022-2023 season comes around, the siblings will once again be reunited.
Niedermayer, a Penticton Vees defenceman, has committed to Arizona State University for next season — the same place where his brother, Jackson, currently plays.
The two brothers, who are also the sons of NHL Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer, played together for the Vees during the BCHL’s 2019-2020 campaign. Injuries, however, limited their time in Penticton to only three games.
But now the brothers are set to meet once again as teammates in Tempe, AZ when they suit up for the Sun Devils.
“Having the opportunity down there to play with him, I just couldn’t refuse that,” Niedermayer said.
The 17-year old announced his commitment to Arizona State on Jan. 3, after spending the last two and a half seasons in Penticton with the Vees.
It’s a move that’s reminiscent of a decision his father made 16 years ago. In the summer of 2005, Niedermayer’s superstar father, Scott, left the New Jersey Devils to go play with his own brother, Rob, in Anaheim with the then-called Mighty Ducks.
While Scott was a defenceman, Rob was a forward. And today, the scenario looks awfully similar — Josh, a defenseman, going to play with his brother, who is instead a forward.
Playing together on the same team was something the two younger Niedermayers didn’t think about until recently.
“Growing up in California I guessed it never crossed our minds,” he recalled. “We always just went out, practiced and worked on stuff with our dad. We never really thought about (playing together) but I guess when we got older it kind of became more of a reality, like OK, we can actually get this to happen.”
Meanwhile, in Penticton, the 2021-2022 season is far from over and Niedermayer is still a member of the Vees. But if the 17-year old was to prematurely reflect on his time in the South Okanagan, he’d think of the team’s coach, general manager and president Fred Harbinson and the culture his coach has built in the Peach City.
“They’re so committed to winning,” Niedermayer explained.
“It’s professional, everything’s hockey and you’re always ready and committed. It’s just an awesome environment to be in — it’s a winning environment.”
On a personal level though, the defenceman already has ideas on what he’ll bring from Penticton to Arizona State.
“The tradition of winning,” he stated. “I want to play as hard as I can every time I get on the ice and lead by example.”