MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Count the number of hours Mike Brodzinski has spent in rinks across the state, a guy could get downright sentimental thinking back on the ride his family’s been on all these years, as he watches his youngest son, Bryce, play his senior season for Blaine High School. And it dawns on him, that this, is the final one.
“Yeah, that’s a tough one, because when I came up, I played for Blaine also, and my brothers, and now the boys, and I, you know, when they were little I never thought it would end, and now it’s coming to an end here,” Mike said. “It all happened so fast.”
First there was Jonny, who starred for St. Cloud State and is now enjoying a successful pro career with the Los Angeles Kings.
Then there was Michael, who starred for the Minnesota Gophers and is now a prospect with the San Jose Sharks.
Easton is currently playing at St. Cloud State, and already making a name for himself.
And then there’s Bryce, a senior at Blaine, who has committed to the Gophers.
“Bryce is a little bit of all of them rolled into one,” Mike said.
When your big brothers have all had so much hockey success, and you’re the youngest, it can be tough.
“You’re definitely held to a higher standard. People expect a lot out of you,” Bryce said. “Growing up, my whole life I’ve always been looked at as the little brother for all my brothers when they’re doing big things.”
But best believe he knows exactly where he stands in the pecking order.
“I was looking at the stats this morning, I was talking to my mom about how many points I needed to beat all my brothers, so I’m pretty close, but I’m not there yet,” Bryce said.
While Mike’s time traversing high school rinks might be coming to an end, it’s not like he won’t have his fill of watching his boys play hockey, as their college and pro careers continue. But make no mistake, this final high school season is a special one for him, especially since it almost didn’t happen. Mike didn’t want Bryce to go back to Blaine.
“Well, there’s certain things as a dad [laughs], you know, I didn’t want him to drive the first time either, but they’re gonna drive [laughs]!” Mike said.
Mike thought it would be best for Bryce’s development if he played this year in the USHL instead, but he left the decision up to him.
“In his heart, he always just wanted to come back,” Mike said.
And it was not an easy prospect for Bryce to break the news to his dad.
“He’s a scary guy, so I don’t like telling him when he’s wrong,” Bryce said.
“It’s a good thing it was over the phone [laughs]!” Mike said.
But it’s a decision Mike has a lot of respect for. A big part of it was that Bryce feels he has some unfinished business. All three of his older brothers played in the state tournament. It is something Bryce hasn’t been able to do, yet.
“Every parent tells a kid not to grow up too fast, and so just hanging out with your best friends for one more year was just an offer I couldn’t pass up,” Bryce said.
And so his parents will soak it all in, one last time.
“It’s been fun,” Mike said. “You know, it’s something that you always wanted for them when they were little … but you didn’t know if they were gonna want to do it or if they didn’t want to do it, you know? And with four of them, they like different things, but they all have one common thing, and that’s hockey.”