Brindley recalls days with Flyers, NCAA | Sports
Like many before him, Ryan Brindley has taken what he learned at the Thunder Bay rinks and found success elsewhere.
Brindley trains, develops and mentors young players in Florida after playing his minor and junior hockey at Lakehead, earning an NCAA Division I scholarship and then embarking on a solid minor pro career.
As the founder and principal of Southeast Elite Hockey, as well as the hockey director of TPH Florida, the 47-year-old Thunder Bavaria native remains heavily invested in the game.
Brindley will also be paying special attention to the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championship as his son Gavin, a freshman forward at the University of Michigan, will be representing the United States after earning a spot on the US roster.
Growing up, Brindley played minor hockey on defense with the Current River Comets before skating with the Thunder Bay Kings’ AAA program.
Enjoying his time as a youth still resonates with him.
“I loved winning and looking back I can honestly say I did whatever I thought was best to help the team win,” said Brindley. “Personal achievements never seemed to excite me as much as team victories.”
The childhood memories are still alive today.
“Winning the Robin’s Donuts tournament with Current River as a kid was unreal. It was the biggest tournament of the year in minor hockey. It was a special feeling to win it with the kids from your neighborhood.”
Brindley joined the Kings, then junior, where he spent two seasons with the Thunder Bay Flyers of the United States Hockey League. The aspiring blueliner began honing his craft under the tutelage of those who taught him the game.
“I had so many great coaches growing up,” Brindley said. “The culture and work ethic I was surrounded with was extremely beneficial; not only from the coaches, but also from the parents, fellow players and the competition.
“Jim Johnson and Marc Chorney really had an impact when I played for the Kings,” he added. “There were very talented teams with a lot of great players. People like Ryan Johnson, Trevor Letowski and Brad Williamson were just a few who helped me get better back then.
Competing for the Flyers juniors from 1993-95 was the next step in Brindley’s development on the ice.
“Playing at home in the USHL was amazing. Rick Adduono, Doug Colbon and Larry Wintoneak really helped me develop as a coach,” he recalls.
A memorable moment for him and the club was winning the 1995 Central Canada Dudley-Hewitt Cup crown and competing in the Centennial Cup.
“I actually scored one of the few goals I had that year in the league game,” Brindley said. “I think we were down six-four then and I threw one into the empty net on my first and only breakaway of the season. Fort William Gardens went crazy. That was a great experience.”
Brindley credits his coaching development with taking him to the next phase of his career when he received an NCAA Division I scholarship to serve in Oxford, Ohio, for Miami, Ohio.
“My coaches at the Flyers helped prepare me for a smooth transition into college hockey.”
Over the next four years, he wore the Miami red and white and played with the likes of Thunder Bay fellow Barry Schutte, now the school’s assistant head coach, and Terrace Bay’s Pat Hanley, as well as current Buffalo Sabers general manager Kevin Adams .
Brindley graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education yet wanted to compete and performed admirably in the ECHL.
Next week, Part II. Chronicling Brindley’s pro career; transition into coaching and development; along with his son’s own rise to US collegiate hockey and the opportunity to compete for World Junior Jockey Gold.
Tom Annelin’s column appears weekly in the Chronicle-Journal. Contact Tom at [email protected]