Twin Peaks

Krygier Brothers Out To Make A Name For Themselves As They Follow In Their Dad’s NHL Footsteps 

 

Todd and Kim Krygier outlined a few simple requests of their five children when they signed them up for athletic teams in Novi, Mich. 

Work hard. Compete. Strive to be better people than athletes.

The formula led to NCAA Division I opportunities for all five Krygier children. And the youngest of the bunch, 17-year-old twins Christian and Cole, have created enough buzz in the hockey world to potentially follow in the footsteps of their father in the National Hockey League.

Christian and Cole Krygier, second-year defensemen for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL, represented their country in August at the prestigious Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup and recently earned invitations to play in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo. Both events serve as key early-season evaluations for the 2018 NHL Draft.

"We don't live our lives through our kids," said Todd Krygier, who scored 100 goals in a career that spanned 543 NHL games with Hartford, Washington and Anaheim. 

"We support them and enjoy them and we're proud of all of them for what they've done in sports and academics, but it's up to them to accomplish what they're going to do. We never put a huge emphasis on them playing Division I. It just kind of happened because their sports have been their passions."

Brock Krygier played three seasons of hockey at Michigan State and a fourth at Arizona State while pursuing a post-graduate degree. Natalie Krygier played one season of soccer at the University of Connecticut and three at the University of Iowa, and Grace recently began her freshman season of soccer at the University of Wisconsin, where the twins will play  following their stints in the USHL.

"It's a little crazy when the whole family is together, because we're all so competitive and we're always kind of battling, so it can get a little heated," said Christian, who was a member of the U.S. squad that won the gold medal at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games. "There's never a dull moment in our house. It's just kind of how our family is made up.

"With both hockey and soccer, you have to put in a lot of time and effort away from the rink or the field. When we were little, there was never a time when my sisters weren't helping us with hockey or we weren't helping them with soccer. Through everything and how competitive we were, we always supported one another."

Dad also brings the perspective of a coach to the athletic dynamic in his household. Following a successful run as the hockey coach at Novi High School, he spent three seasons as head coach of the USHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks and recently began his second year as an assistant coach at Western Michigan University.

"It helps a lot to have a guy to go to, let alone your dad, who has gone through it and knows what it's like," said Cole, who played in 37 games with the Stars last season. "Any advice he gives, we'll take it and use it to the best of our abilities because obviously he understands from a playing standpoint and a coaching standpoint.

"He just wants us to go out and play and not focus so much on who's watching or what's happening. Just go out, play and have fun. If you're not having fun, it's probably not going to end up too well for you."

That mindset should serve them well heading into their draft year.

"Obviously, this is a big year for us and it's hard not to think about it, but if you stay focused, keep things simple and go on with your everyday life, it will make it a little easier to have a better year," Cole said.

The Krygier twins understand that having a father who played in the NHL comes with no guarantees for their own playing careers. It might open a door here or there, but they still have to perform on the ice to advance their careers.

Chris Hartsburg, who coached the twins in Lincoln last season before moving on to Erie of the Ontario Hockey League, can relate to their situation. His father, Craig, enjoyed successful playing and coaching careers in the NHL. 

"Todd played at the highest level for a long time, and he's taught his sons how a locker room runs and that they're not going to be given ice time or responsibility. They know they have to earn it," Hartsburg said. "Todd's let them kind of wade their way through this and create their own path, which is great. He's always there to help them. But, as a kid who had a father who played in the NHL, I know you don't want your dad to constantly tell you what to do.

"I loved their confidence. Even as 16-year-olds in the USHL, they were confident enough to try different things instead of always making the same play. And they made a lot of progress throughout the year because of it."

That progress continued this summer with the Hlinka Tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Americans finished fifth in the eight-team tournament that attracted scouts from all 31 NHL teams.

"It's a huge tournament to kick-start the year, and it was an unbelievable experience to see how you stack up against the top-end guys from around the world," Christian said. 

"Obviously, we didn't get the result we wanted, but I think a lot of guys proved themselves to the people sitting in the stands."

 

Issue: 
2017-11

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