Colorado College sophomore defenseman Bryan Yoon is picking up right where he left off last year in his impressive freshman campaign. Photo courtesy of Colorado College.
Bryan Yoon is not skating under the radar anymore.
The Parker native made a splash last season at Colorado College, recording the most points (26) by a freshman since St. Louis Blues forward Jaden Schwartz led the Tigers to the 2011 NCAA Tournament West Regional final. It was also the most by a Colorado College freshman blue liner in 23 years.
Yoon’s play put him on the radar of NHL scouts and garnered him a spot on the National Collegiate Hockey Conference all-rookie team — a feat last accomplished by a Tiger when Jaccob Slavin, a fellow Colorado Thunderbirds alumnus, did it.
“He’s a guy who can quarterback your power play,” Colorado College coach Mike Haviland said. “He does not get rattled. He is a quiet guy with a real competitive edge. When he loses a puck battle during a game or practice, he has a little bit of that bite. He is a special talent and we are happy to have him.”
The 6-foot-1 defenseman’s play displays his ability to anticipate the action and skates with a confidence springing from success at every level.
Parker native Yoon is listed at 6-foot-1 and 171 pounds.
“He is a super special kid who skates really well,” said senior Kristian Blumenschein, his usual defensive partner. “He believes in his ability and in himself to make the right play.”
“I just have to give that to my youth coaches, teaching me how to play like that,” Yoon said. “It’s mostly controlling your emotions. Not letting yourself get too high or too low.”
Yoon was worth the wait for Haviland, even if he knew he needed a well-rounded player of that caliber to hasten his program rebuild.
“Bryan was one of our first recruits,” Haviland said. “It took a long time. We probably could have brought him in a year sooner. But for Bryan’s development, it was the best thing for him. To see him do what he did as a freshman was really good for us.”
Yoon, who was sixth in Division 1 last season with 65 shot blocks, played a key role in Colorado College winning its first NCHC postseason series and advancing to the semifinals.
His emergence points to the development of Colorado club hockey with more Centennial State natives showing up on college and pro rosters in the past few years.
“The Avalanche’s success when these young men were very young is really starting to pay off,” Haviland said. “Former NHL and college players are now coming back to coach and you are seeing that with this current group of players. We have to make sure we recruit well in Colorado.”
Yoon, who started playing at age 4 in Arapahoe, moved to defenseman while with the Thunderbirds. He blossomed under the tutelage of Omaha Lancers coach David Wilkie, a former NHL defenseman.
“I had really good coaching with the T-Birds that really focused on helping me become a better player and how to play smart hockey,” Yoon said. “(Going to Omaha) was a really good move for me to make. It helped me look at things in different ways.”
Wilkie helped Yoon develop the offensive skills that further grew with the Wenatchee Wild of the British Columbia Hockey League and over two years in the U.S. Hockey League with Tri-City (Neb.). During his second season, he became the first defenseman in franchise history to lead the Storm in scoring with 35 points (32 assists).
"The biggest thing I need to do is get bigger and stronger."
“(Wilkie) put me in a different role and that really helped my confidence playing more offensively,” Yoon said. “BC is more flow and the USHL is a lot more structured. They were both good for me. Getting that baseline was really important (transitioning to college).”
The defenseman is focused on helping Colorado College secure its first NCHC home playoff series while preparing for the next level. Competing in this past summer’s Buffalo Sabres development camp was an eye-opener.
“It shows the work ethic you need to get to the next level,” said Yoon, who weighs in at 171 pounds. “With all the 200-pounders out there, the biggest thing I need to do is get bigger and stronger.”
Although Haviland believes Yoon will get his shot at the pros, the coach hopes it will take a little while.
“You want him for four years but in this conference, but when you put up numbers like that, you just don’t know,” said Haviland, a former Stanley Cup winner as a Blackhawks assistant. “Believe me, I have talked to a lot of people about him already. Everyone is asking about him.”