It's been about 15 years since Liam and David Norris played hockey together. That's just in the same league. Liam is two years older, so they've never had the chance to play on the same team.
It didn't look like it was ever going to happen. Liam, a senior forward for ASU, had only half of a season of eligibility left while David was a sophomore at American International College, an NCAA Division I school in in Springfield, Mass. Then ASU's announcement for Division I came out and everything changed.
This week ASU coach Powers announced David had signed the transfer papers and was coming to Tempe. The Norris brothers were going to be Sun Devils together.
"I never thought I'd be able to play with him again," David said. "It fell in my lap and I'm extremely happy about that and excited."
Hockey is no different than any other NCAA sport when it comes to its transfer rules. If ASU was Division I right now, David would be ineligible and have to sit out one season. But because ASU is still an ACHA team, he is eligible to play immediately and will join the Sun Devils in their title hunt.
David will be forced to sit out the entirety of the 2015-16 season. He has yet to use his redshirt season, which means he will still have two full seasons of eligibility beginning in 2016-17.
"It's going to be tough, because obviously you want to play every game," David said of sitting out a year. "Hopefully I can get strong, work on my skating, things like that, my other skills and get ready for a full, independent Division I season."
The process in David getting to ASU was a little tricky. Because we was playing for AIC, Powers was not allowed to go talk to him- recruiting other schools' players is a huge violation. David's dad contacted Powers, who then went through the ASU compliance department requesting permission to talk to him. AIC then had to grant that permission.
On the other side, David needed to seek permission to talk to ASU, something he knew he wanted to do ever since ASU's announcement it would be NCAA. Even if he didn't get to play with Liam, David said he wanted to come to ASU anyway.
The timing of the move was so that David could play half of a season with Liam, but thinking of him as just Liam's little brother would be a mistake. In fact, he may even prove to be better.
"David Norris, in my opinion, he could play for any Division I school in the country," Powers said. "Essentially David is Liam Norris, but bigger and faster."
Liam currently leads ASU in points (33) and assists (23) while also popping 10 goals in 23 games. David has played 15 games with four goals and 10 assists. In his one-and-a-half seasons at AIC, David has accumulated a career line of 11-36-47 in 50 games. His 26 assists set an AIC freshman assists record last season.
David plays on the wing, with Liam firmly entrenched as the team's top centerman. Powers said he has considered playing the two on the same line, but also said he doesn't want to break the chemistry Liam currently has with wingers Sean Murphy and Eric Rivard.
Powers said that while he has transfer inquiries from other players, he does not expect any current NCAA players to join ASU for the remainder of the season. He wants to start fresh next year and not have to sit players out he said, but that David Norris was a special case.
David joins Ryan Belonger and Connor Schmidt as the three Sun Devils who are former NCAA Division I players. It's a level of talent the ACHA has not seen since Penn State finished its ACHA life using NCAA players in 2012. As Powers was quick to say, Penn State failed to make the title game that season, so a national title is still far from guaranteed.
But as for the rest of the ACHA season, it's a dream come true for Liam and David Norris to get to play with each other. David came down from Massachusetts to Delaware to watch Liam at the national tournament, and this year in Ohio, the two will be on the ice together, trying to win a national championship.
"It would be surreal," Liam said. "Definitely one of the best hockey moments I've ever had."