After passionately pursuing his love of hockey all the way to the professional level, Virden product Bryn Chyzyk is now trying to help others do the same.
The son of Dave and Michelle Chyzyk was recently named the Director of Scouting for the Waterloo (Iowa) Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League. The USHL is the top tier of junior hockey in the United States and annually produces players, including Chyzyk, who advance to the university and pro ranks. What is Chyzyk, who now lives in the Minneapolis area, looking forward to most about the position?
“The chance to evaluate these prospects so early on in their careers,” he said. “To get the chance to draft a player, and then watch him grow and develop as a member of the organization. Then hopefully the goal is to get those players to the NHL, that is what I am hoping to do and looking forward to most.”
The Black Hawks are pleased to have Chyzyk, who earned a law degree last spring from the University of North Dakota. He has served as a graduate assistant coach for the Grand Forks school’s men’s hockey team and has scouted American prospects for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Virden Oil Capitals.
"With his success in this league and accomplishments at higher levels, Bryn understands firsthand what it takes to build a successful junior team," said Black Hawks general manager Shane Fukushima. "It makes our organization better to add his experience to a very accomplished group."
Most of the focus of Chyzyk’s new job will be discovering and evaluating prospects for the annual USHL Draft, which encompasses two different phases. In the USHL Phase One draft, teams select 15U players (2005 birth year for the 2021 event) from anywhere in the world. These players often develop for a season or two before moving up to the junior level. In Phase Two, any older player with remaining junior eligibility (2001-2004 for the 2021 draft) is available.
“This creates an extremely large player pool, five birth years of players from across the entire United States, all of Canada, and even players from overseas. The advancements in webcast and video viewings of prospects will help big time, but I will also have to travel to a lot of different areas,” said Chyzyk, who noted he is fortunate to live in one of the larger hockey hubs in the United States, so he can go to nearby games.
Virden & Career Journey
Chyzyk would likely love to uncover some prospects who have a similar hockey career trajectory as his. He went through the disappointment of being cut twice at the U18 AAA level, but through hard work and dedication earned the opportunity to eventually play pro hockey. His journey started in his hometown.
“There is no better place to grow up as a young hockey player than Virden,” he said. “Getting to play with the same group all the way up in minor hockey is something that I cherish, as I have now realized that is not the case for most players in bigger cities. I am thankful for the amazing youth hockey coaches and teachers in the school system that helped me grow into the person I am today.”
Chyzyk played for the Virden Collegiate Institute hockey team before competing for the U18 AAA Southwest Cougars for a season. He then moved onto the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings where he was named the league’s Rookie of the Year and was selected to the All-Rookie Team. Chyzyk played the next season for the USHL’s Fargo (N.D.) Force and earned a scholarship to play for the UND men’s hockey team.
Throughout his hockey career, Chyzyk has had the backing of his family. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he has not been able to see them in a long time.
“They have supported me through both the good and bad times, and I am really hoping that I can get back to Virden to see them once the virus settles down,” Chyzyk said.
Chyzyk played four seasons at UND (2012-2016). He increased his points, goals and assists production each season. Chyzyk helped the Fighting Hawks make it to the NCAA Division I Frozen Four in three consecutive seasons (2014-2016). As an assistant captain in his final campaign, Chyzyk and the UND squad won the 2016 national championship – UND’s eighth and most recent.
Chyzyk, who earned a business management degree at UND, played professional hockey for the 2016-2017 season. He suited up for the ECHL’s Indy Fuel and for the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs. The IceHogs are the top farm team of the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks.
After concussions cut Chyzyk’s pro career short, he returned to UND to pursue a law degree. He was pleased to be a graduate assistant coach last season.
“The UND program holds a special place in my heart, and to get the opportunity to be a part of the coaching staff was surreal,” Chyzyk said.
He described it as “an amazing experience.”
“I had the chance to be back in the coaches room, analyze the game at a high level, and get to work with multiple NHL draft picks on the ice everyday. … It was disappointing to end the season short due to COVID-19. We had just gotten off the ice for pre-game skate for our first playoff game. Heartbreaking for the players especially the seniors as we were the number one ranked team when the season was cut short.”
As a member of the Fargo Force, Chyzyk competed in Waterloo against the Black Hawks.
“The main thing I remember from my time playing in Waterloo was how awesome the atmosphere was at Young Arena,” he said. “It was a hard place to play back in the day, and I am looking forward to catching my first game back as a member of the organization.”
He said that Waterloo “as an organization has always done things the right way.” Chyzyk believes there are two different ways to measure a successful junior hockey organization.
“Obviously in winning hockey games, which Waterloo has done more than anyone in the USHL in the last decade,” Chyzyk said. “But also moving players on to higher levels. I am so fortunate to join an organization that is successful at both of these things.”
At UND, Chyzyk was teammates with several former Black Hawks. These included Brock Boeser, who now plays for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks.
“The coaches from UND have dealt with the organization for a lot of years in recruiting players and had extremely high praise for the way they operate,” Chyzyk said. “Head coach P.K. O’Handley is the all-time leader in USHL coaching victories, and general manager Shane Fukushima has drafted and developed multiple NHL players. The opportunity to learn from these two individuals will be extremely valuable.”
The duo is exited to have Chyzyk on board.
"Bryn is a great addition to our staff and will excel in his role as Director of Scouting," Black Hawks head coach P.K. O'Handley said in a media release. "With his analytics background and his network and experience, he is a great asset to the Black Hawks."