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Brother act is expanding

Harvard’s third Biega completes the hat trick

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / October 8, 2009

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When the four Biega brothers were growing up in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, they spent many hours in the winter skating on the lake in their backyard.

Most days, the eldest, Alex, would team up with the youngest, Marc, in a game of two-on-two against middle brothers Michael and Danny. Who won more often is open to debate, since each claims superiority over his siblings. What often happened is that they wouldn’t finish the games at all because fights would break out.

“We’d get too competitive,’’ said Michael. “We’d end up hitting someone and the game would end.’’

When Harvard opens its 2009-10 hockey campaign Oct. 30 at Dartmouth, though, three of the Biegas will be on the same side. Danny, a freshman, joins Alex, a senior, and Michael, a junior, on the roster. It will be the first time the trio has played on the same team and the first time three brothers have played on the same Harvard squad since Dominic, Mark, and Steve Moore in 1999-2000.

“It was really lucky the way things turned out,’’ said Alex Biega, a defenseman, who had 20 points last season. “It was obviously something our family wanted.’’

Alex is majoring in sociology, Michael in economics, and Danny is undecided. Danny followed in his brothers’ footsteps by going to Salisbury (Conn.) School, but when it came time for college, he actually considered taking a different path because of the difficult admissions process.

“After a lot of work of studying how to do well on the tests and how to get a good score, after that, it moved fairly smoothly, but that was probably the biggest obstacle,’’ said Danny. “It was a lot of studying and I had a tutor for a long time. I put a lot of hours into it.

“I knew all along that I wanted to play with these two. I thought it would be real interesting if all three of us were here at the same time, and it ended up happening.’’

Alex said it seemed destined to happen.

“In Danny’s case, I think he just saw an opportunity at hand and he really capitalized on it and really wanted it to happen,’’ said Alex. “So did Mike and I, but at the same time, it was almost a falling-dominoes sequence. I was there and Mike really looked up watching me play and saw the opportunity, and Danny vice-versa.’’

Alex and Danny are defensemen and Michael is a forward, but all of them played different positions during their development.

“I played both forward and defense up until I was 13 years old,’’ said Alex. “Michael was actually a defenseman up until the age of [10]. Then he was moved to forward by a well-regarded coach. Danny has played both, the same with my younger brother. I think it was coaches that made that decision for us.’’

Alex and Danny are both outgoing; Michael is more reserved. In a sports and movie trivia contest, Michael would take the prize. Danny said he loves pushing the limits in sports and is a surfing and kite surfing enthusiast.

“That’s one of the things that differentiates me from both my brothers,’’ said Danny, adding that his surfing skills make him a better hockey player. “I kind of have a big passion for all those extreme sports, even motocross. I have a passion for the adrenaline sports.’’

Although the Biegas are close, they go their own way on campus and intersect with one another generally in only one place: Bright Hockey Center.

“Everyone says, ‘You must see your brothers all the time,’ ’’ said Alex. “I don’t talk to Danny until I see him down at the rink. The same thing with Mike. It’s pretty funny if you think about the amount of time we actually do spend with each other when we’re in school. I do spend a lot more time at home with them than I do spend at school, for sure.’’

The brothers aren’t the only Quebec-born players on the team. There are a total of six: sophomore forward Alex Killorn grew up near the Biega family, freshman forward Louis Leblanc hails from Kirkland, and junior forward Pier-Olivier Michaud is from Mont-Joli. Alex Biega said it’s no accident.

“It’s a lot of fun because when we go back home, we skate together and train together every day,’’ said Alex, referring to his family and Killorn. “It’s definitely a different culture and a different path the majority of kids are taking in Montreal. You see a lot more kids attending prep schools and US colleges rather than pursuing junior.

“I think more and more people are realizing it’s a tough world out there not only in the professional hockey leagues but it’s very tough making it and playing, and even if you do make it, the question is how long? I think more and more people are realizing the value of an education, especially an Ivy League education.’’

Harvard coach Ted Donato said not only are the three talented hockey players, they also bring a great deal of character to the squad.

“I think it’s going to be pretty exciting,’’ said Donato. “With Alex Biega being the captain, coming off what I thought was a superb season last year individually, I think Michael [6 goals and 11 assists last season] is poised to have a breakout season as far as goal scoring for us, and we’re very excited to add Danny Biega, who, like his brother Alex, comes to Harvard after winning the New England Prep School Championship.

“Not only do we have three brothers on the team but we have three brothers who have an opportunity to have a huge impact.’’

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at marrapese@globe.com.