Usually, the naming of a head coach in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League would be relegated to aggregate type in the “For The Record” page in your local newspaper. This past week, however, when your team is the Humboldt Broncos, the hiring of 35-year hold Nathan Oystrick was on the front pages of Canadian newspapers all over the country and on hockey/sports websites all over the world.
Ostryick came back to his native province from Atlanta, Georgia where this past season, he was the head coach at Colorado Academy High School in the suburbs as well as an assistant coach with the East Coast Hockey League Atlanta Gladiators. The Broncos will be Ostyick’s first head coaching experience at any level of hockey. This is the team that lost 16 players along with their head coach Darcy Haugen in that horrific crash when the team bus was hit by a semi tractor-trailer on a rural highway this past April 8th. At his introductory press conference, Ostryick said “I understand what the Broncos have always meant to the community of Humboldt. I also understand what the team has meant to a lot of people across North America.”
Ostryick was born in and raised in Regina. He left to play Junior A hockey in Surrey, British Columbia a suburb of Vancouver. Then went onto Northern Michigan University where he played 151 games for the Wildcats. He was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2002 entry draft but decided to play four years in the upper peninsula of Michigan and earned his degree. He began his pro career with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves and was one of their best blueliners. He played 162 games for the team that is based in the suburb of Rosemont scoring 91 points (31 goals) and was part of their 2008 Calder Cup Playoff run.
In 2008-09 he made it to the NHL with the Thrashers. However, his career lasted just 65 games as he played for three teams (Atlanta, Anaheim, and St. Louis) most of the time being moved from the parent club to their top minor league team whether it was in Chicago, Illinois Portland, Maine or Peoria, Illinois. After the 2011-12 season, he went to Russia and played two seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League. However, he returned to North America after the 2013-14 season and signed with Arizona. He did not make the Coyotes roster and finished his playing career in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons and his final season, 2015-16, with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL.
Returning to Atlanta in 2016 to begin his coaching career he spent a full season with the Gladiators and part of last season when he also took the job at Colorado Academy High. The Broncos said after the crash that they will be playing hockey in the 2018-19 season. The hiring of Ostryick is that first step as well as finding and recruiting players. For the Broncos and their fans, not only in Humboldt, but throughout the Hockey world, a new chapter is being written in their history and will see a team in Green, Gold, and White take to the ice in late September.