Mikhail Bryan, a former Springfield Pics player, got some very welcome news this week. He was named one of 25 semifinalists still eligible to win the Joe Concannon Award.
This award goes to the best American-born player in NCAA Division 2 and 3 hockey, and was first won by former NHLer Keith Aucoin, who moved on to the highest level after a career with Norwich University.
Bryan, a native of Ohio, joined the Pics in the first year of the USPHL (2013-14) and stayed with the Pics for two years before moving on to Suffolk University. This year, he is a senior captain for the Rams and he has improved his points total each year.
Bryan talks about the honor of being named a Concannon Award, which has been won by two USPHL alumni in the last four years - Brady Fleurent (2017) and Jamie Murray (2015 and 2016).
What do you think about being one of the 25 finalists for the Concannon Award?
I think it’s pretty special. I didn’t really know much about it until my freshman year when my teammate Justin, a senior, was nominated when I was a freshman. It’s an honor, a special thing, because the guys who are on the list are players who I’ve watched and followed throughout my career, trying to match myself with them.
What do you like about playing for the Suffolk University Rams?
I would say it’s just my teammates themselves, they’re good teammates, and have been for the most part for all four years I’ve been here. This year, there are a lot of guys who are in my class that I’ve played with. We’ve had some tough years, but we’ve been able to deal with adversity. It teaches you to come to the rink and work hard. We don’t have a huge junior class, but we have big sophomore and freshman classes. It’s good for them to look up to the seniors. For me, personally, this is probably the most fun team I’ve been on, even if the record is not a reflection of a better team.
What drew you to Suffolk originally?
Honestly, it was just the location. I didn’t have many offers out of juniors, but I liked that Suffolk was right in the city. Being from the Midwest, I didn’t know much about Boston, so it was a new experience.
What were your thoughts about your experience with the Springfield Pics?
My coach was Patrick Tabb, who’s now at Western New England College. In my first year, we were in the USPHL Elite and played with a chip on our shoulders. We ended up winning the Elite that year and we went to the Nationals. I had never done that as a kid. It was really fun to go, and that was something cool that I’ll never forget.
The next year, we were moved up to Premier and we didn’t do very well, but we had lost about 15 kids to college. We came in with a brand new team, and we were going against a team like South Shore that had more than 10 guys going to different Division 1 schools. I still had a lot of fun and enjoyed it, due to the players and coach at the time. He instilled a good work ethic and got the most out of the team.
Do you follow the USPHL today? What are your thoughts on where the league is today?
It’s pretty impressive that you can have a tuition-free league out here. When I came out here in 2013, that didn’t exist yet. It was more of a pipe dream, but now with the tuition-free NCDC, a kid doing well in prep or high school probably want to stay here rather than go to the Midwest.
I haven’t seen a game there, but from the players from there who are on our team and the kids committing there to Division 1 schools, they’re right alongside those Midwest leagues and it’s more desirable to play out here.