New faces, new year; Bruins entering 2015 with new coaches
Published 1:01 pm Sunday, September 13, 2015
Although he played high school and college hockey, new Austin Bruins head coach Kyle Grabowski didn’t always want to coach the sport.
It just sort of happened.
Grabowski, who played goalie for Tartan High School and Division III Marion University in Wisconsin, was content with getting a regular job when he finished college. But when Grabowski lost his regular job in 2008, he decided to pursue coaching as a career.
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He coached at pee wees, bantams and at the high school level. He ventrally broke in with the Idaho Junior Steelheads in the WSHL as an assistant coach in 2010. He was eventually named to the head coach and general manager of the Steelheads, where he led the team to a Tier III national championship.
Grabowski, who was an assistant coach with the Brookings Blizzard last season, is hoping to keep up that winning tradition as he takes over a Bruins franchise that had played in the last two Robertson Cup Finals under former head coach Chris Tok, who resigned after last season.
“I have a burning desire to win. Nobody wants to win more than me,” Grabowski said. “I expect to win every night. I’m a competitive guy, otherwise you shouldn’t be working in sports. I compete every day to be the best I can be and so do the kids.”
Grabowski spent the offseason putting together his team for this season. The coaching staff had about a week to put together its draft, and the roster was thrown together in about a month. Grabowski said the month of September could see a lot more changes as USHL players start to become available.
“We have to do the best we can to build the best team possible,” Grabowski said. “There’s definitely a group of players here who know that every time they get on the ice it matters, because they’re fighting for a spot.”
The Bruins have a young squad this year and Grabowski is hoping to get as many players to the Division I level as possible.
Jade Miller, one of the returnees for the Bruins, said that Grabowski and his staff have been a good group to play for as the team prepares for its season opener at Bismarck 7:15 p.m. Friday. The Bruins will host their Brookings in their home opener Oct. 3.
“They’re great so far,” Miller said of the coaching staff. “They’ve been really good to us and I think that’s the most important part. I think that’s huge and we trust them a lot with their systems and what they want us to do.”
Bruins co-owner Craig Patrick is pleased with what he’s seen from the new coaching staff so far.
“We’re really happy with the new coaching staff. They’re great people and they know hockey too,” Patrick said.
Grabowski coached in Austin a few times last season when he was an assistant for Brookings and he was drawn to the atmosphere at Riverside Arena.
“Being here and experiencing it was part of the reason I wanted the job,” Grabowski said. “The town, the atmosphere and the community is so great behind it. It’s a great place and players want to play here.”
Grabowski was still playing college hockey just eight years ago and he’s risen up the coaching ranks pretty quickly. He’s thrilled to have the opportunity to coach the Bruins.
“I’ve worked pretty hard, but I’ve been fortunate to have people help me along the way,” Grabowski said. “As a young guy, this is a big step for me and a great opportunity for me.”