BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Nathan Bryer, Ryan Larkin and Garrett Polish are excited for the winter season to begin and get started on the ice.
All three graduated from Clarkston High School and are coaching the Clarkston Hockey team.
“We have a pretty cool staff this year just because all three of us went to Clarkston, graduated from Clarkston, moved away to play hockey for a while and we all kind of came back,” said Bryer.
He added all three were interested in coaching.
“We were going to go back to our club teams where we played, but Clarkston Hockey was looking for coaches,” he said. “It’s cool we have a staff that went to Clarkston and grew up in the community. Now we are back doing it again.”
The winter season was put on pause in mid-November per an emergency order to pause activity by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to decrease the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s been a weird year,” said Bryer. “We were excited in November and now the waiting has made it more exciting.”
The Michigan High School Athletic Association Representative Council met on Dec. 23 and approved an adjusted regular-season calendar for indoor winter sports.
If the MDHHS pause ends, indoor practices may begin again this Saturday, Jan. 16, with first competitions to start for ice hockey, basketball, bowling and boys swimming & diving on Jan. 22.
Bryer noted they have a really good group of kids on this winter’s team.
“We developed relationships with them really fast,” he said. “As a coaching staff we are excited to get things going.”
Bryer added they have 21 for the team and it is a good mix of returners and new players.
“We have an old team – we have a lot of seniors,” he said. “We did take three freshmen on the team so we are kind of spread out class wise up and down the board.”
The team also has a good mix from players who have played on club teams around the area.
One of the goals is to make Clarkston Hockey into a program.
“Not just a hockey team and it’s 20 guys every year,” Bryer explained. “Turn it into a destination program so we don’t lose those high end kids to club teams. We get them to come play for us. The big thing for us is turning it more into a program.”
Bryer and Polish graduated from CHS in 2014 and Larkin graduated in 2015.
All three continued playing after graduating high school. Bryer played with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays for three seasons from 2014-17 and Mercyhurst University for one season, 2017-18. Larkin played for Miami University in Ohio for four seasons, from 2016-20. Polish played for the Grand Valley State University Roller Hockey team for four seasons, 2014-2018.
“I think it’s pretty exciting for guys to come back after we all graduated – that’s the coolest thing for us,” Bryer said.
More changes to the ice hockey season include competition limits for the 2020-21 season.
The MHSAA Representative Council approved one-year changes to competition limits for ice hockey. Teams may play two games on one non-school day on two dates this season – with four games total during those two weeks.
The Representative Council also approved changes to the winter tournament schedule to push championships back to allow for regular seasons to be extended due to the late start. Regionals, March 15-20 and the finals will be March 25-27.