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A family affair for Michael Neal

Sunday, November 13th
A family affair for Michael Neal

Michael Neal?s brother James has the upper hand ? for now. The 26-year-old is a left wing for the Pittsburgh Penguins and the first of four Neal brothers to reach the highest level of North American hockey. It?s a fact that doesn?t go unnoticed when the brothers get together. ?He brings it up every once in a while,? joked younger brother Michael about James? success. ?From the stupidest little things to the bigger scale; in just about everything there seems to be a bit of a battle.? However, younger brother is not far behind. And in his third season with the Steelheads, the 6?3? forward is quick to cite his brother?s example as a key to his success. ?He?s worked very hard to get to where he?s at and I look up to him,? said Neal of his brother. ?He?s a very good player and It?s good to have him show me what to do and how handle certain situations.? The younger Neal has taken those lessons seriously. In his first two seasons with the Steelheads, the Whitby, Ontario native posted 31 points (11 G, 20 A) and 47 penalty minutes. His performance during the 2010-11 campaign earned him a mid-season call up to Texas, the AA affiliate of the Dallas Stars. In 16 games in Texas, Neal netted three goals and 12 penalty minutes. ?It?s been good to get experience in Texas and see how things are done at the next level,? Neal said. ?It is a learning experience and something that I obviously aspire to.? But as for now, Boise, along with the rest of the Steelheads, is happy to have him. In 14 games this season, Neal has registered five points, including a career-best three points (2 G, 1 A) against the Bakersfield Condors last week. ?He?s a great guy and a good teammate to play with,? said teammate Chad Nehring, who played with Neal last season. ?He works hard and is a good example for the rest of us.? Neal?s experience, both in Boise and at the dinner table, have given him maturity beyond his 22 years and bode well for the Steelheads 2011-12 season. ?We have a good, young team,? Neal stated. ?We?re starting to do the little things right. With time and practice and the coach?s help we?ll be headed in the right direction.?

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