ASU’s Hollman, Montreal Canadiens’ Gallagher bond over hockey and family

Mar 28, 2018, 11:59 AM | Updated: 4:47 pm

Dylan Hollman on the ice during a contest against the University of Michigan. (Photo courtesy Kylee...

Dylan Hollman on the ice during a contest against the University of Michigan. (Photo courtesy Kylee Meter/Walter Cronkite Sports Network)

(Photo courtesy Kylee Meter/Walter Cronkite Sports Network)

TEMPE, Ariz. — On an Arizona State hockey team filled with up-and-coming players that have NHL aspirations, forward Dylan Hollman has a connection with one of the league’s best young forwards that stretches back to his grandma’s basement during Christmas as a kid.

Hollman fondly remembers the times when he would play hand hockey during the holidays with his family members, which included his first cousin, Brendan Gallagher, who is now a star for the Montreal Canadiens.

Both grew up in Canada, Hollman in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and Gallagher in Edmonton, but they never lived very close to each other, making family gatherings the most opportune chance for them to spend time together.

“It was always the older cousins versus younger cousins in mini sticks in the basement at Grandma’s house during the holidays,” Gallagher said, referencing the hand hockey games. “He was one of the younger cousins that we would beat.”

Gallagher (25) is more than a year older than Hollman (24), so they were not able to play on the same team most of the time, but Hollman would work with his uncle, Gallagher’s father, who was the strength coach of the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.

In Vancouver, Hollman had the unique opportunity of skating with current NHL players Evander Kane and Milan Lucic, along with Gallagher.

“It was a really cool opportunity for me to finally play with those high-end guys and then to play with Brendan because I had seen him play a ton of times, especially when he was in the WHL,” Hollman said.

With Gallagher always excelling in hockey since his youth, Hollman admits that the comparisons were natural whenever it came time for improvement.

“Growing up, I know my dad, any time he would have something in my game that he would want to try and improve, he would try to compare it to Brendan and say how Brendan plays and stuff like that,” Hollman said. “Sometimes, it’s like, ‘Well, I’m not Brendan — he’s a little different style player than me and stuff like that.’ ”

To the naked eye, the two aren’t exactly similar players, as can be seen in their build alone. Gallagher is about four inches shorter, at just 5 feet 9, but he makes up for his size with his speed, strength and goal-scoring ability. The work ethic that Gallagher possesses has made him a role model to Hollman.

“If you see him, he is built like a truck for his size,” Hollman said. “He is so explosive, so just seeing the intensity that those guys carry themselves with.”

Although a busy schedule sometimes gets in the way, Hollman does his best to keep tabs on his cousin’s hockey career. He mentioned that whenever the Canadiens are in town he does his best to make it to the game.

“Any time I try to flip a game on, if it’s between the Oilers and them I will definitely try to watch it because the Oilers are my favorite team,” Hollman said. “If I get a chance I try to watch the game. I try to watch as much as I can, we have an NHL package at home.”

On the other side of the coin, Gallagher has made sure to stay in tune with Hollman’s collegiate career.

“I remember when ASU went D-1 and he was named captain,” Gallagher said. “It’s pretty cool for him to be experiencing that at great school like ASU.”

When the two find the time to talk, which is sometimes through text and usually a few times per year during family weddings or other gatherings, it’s more than just hockey that comes up in the conversation.

“How life is going, how hockey is going,” Gallagher said regarding the content of their exchanges. “The weather there is a lot better than here so I’ll ask him about that.”

Hollman is mindful of keeping the conversation casual.

“I usually not to try to pick his brain on hockey too much, because obviously he gets that so much,” Hollman added, echoing a similar sentiment. “Mostly just family and how everyone in his family is doing and how he is doing and stuff like that.”

As they progress into the professional ranks, some athletes can lose sight of where they came from. Hollman finds it pleasing that Gallagher is still grounded and maintains contact with those close to him.

“He is obviously a really nice kid and hasn’t changed a whole lot since he has been to the NHL,” Hollman said. “Still gives us all the time of day and stuff like that so it’s good to see that hasn’t changed the kind of person that he is.”

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ASU’s Hollman, Montreal Canadiens’ Gallagher bond over hockey and family