By Suzie Cool (@SuzKewl) | Published on February 28, 2020
Remember that chapter we talked about back in October, the one that was just waiting to be written? Well it’s time reopen that book on rookie defenseman Jacob Bryson.
Here we go.
It’s a Wednesday night in February at The Blue Cross Arena and the Rochester Americans are taking on the North Division-leading Belleville Senators. As the clock runs out in regulation, the Amerks’ opponent makes a late third period comeback, forcing the 13th overtime effort on the year for Rochester.
Belleville scores just 1:12 into that extra frame, but that’s not what we’re focused on here.
Let’s rewind it back to the second period.
Midway through the middle stanza and the Amerks would pull ahead with a two-goal lead. The team leader in points, Jean-Sebastian Dea, would pick up his second point on the night with an assist off a face-off win by Rasmus Asplund. After picking up the puck inside the Rochester zone, Dea sent Asplund and Bryson in transition towards the Belleville netminder.
As Asplund outwaited a diving Senators defender, he flips the puck to the 21-year-old Bryson, who fires a shot over the left hand of the goaltender to double the Amerks lead with just 9:04 left in the frame.
WATCH: JACOB BRYSON AFTER THE FEB. 19 GAME AGAINST BELLEVILLE
“It’s been 50 some games,” said a relieved Bryson afterwards. “It took a long time to get there but that was a set play off the face-off. ‘Aspy’ set up a great pass and I just had to put the puck in the back of the net and after that it was finally nice to get that goal,” expressed the young defenseman following the game back on Feb. 19 against the Senators.
A total of 51 games – that’s how many contests had passed in the Amerks 2019-20 season before the rookie defenseman found the back of the net first time on the year.
The thing is, though, that Bryson had been edging closer and closer to that moment months before it ever even happened. In his rookie year, Bryson has missed just one game while pairing on the blueline with veteran defenseman Zach Redmond for a large chunk of the other 55 games. During those 55 contests, the 21-year-old has now notched two goals in back-to-back games and added 19 assists to his stat line while being just one of three players on the Rochester roster to appear in that many contests.
Bryson attributes a large portion of his success throughout his rookie campaign on learning from the vets he gets to take the ice with and developing more and more as the games get knocked off the calendar.
“I think it just comes with experience and learning from a lot of these veteran guys. I’ve played with Redmond the whole year and he’s a really good example, so I’ve learned a lot confidence-wise and just being out on the ice on how to be a better player. I think as the games go on, like every player, you progress and get better and develop over the year.”
WATCH: JACOB BRYSON AFTER THE FEV. 21 GAME AGAINST LEHIGH VALLEY
Now luckily for the Amerks rookie, his progress and development are not going unnoticed as his newfound confidence begins to grow with each and every game that passes by. And not only do his teammates recognize his speed and knowledge when out on the ice, but the coaching staff is well aware of his great vision and left-handed dynamic that is starting to make it tough for opponents to control.
“With that newfound confidence, it’s making him tough to control for other teams. He adds a dynamic that we haven’t had in a while as a left-handed defenseman jumping up in the play with his speed. It’s good and he can make plays. He’s got great skill, great vision and he’s got a great shot,” stated Amerks head coach Chris Taylor when asked about Bryson’s confident style of play.
Skip ahead a couple pages in your book, and just two days after his scoring first professional goal, Bryson would net another in an overtime thriller last Friday against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
In the final minute of regulation, Sean Malone temporarily gave Rochester a 2-1 lead as he buried a puck over the left shoulder of the Phantoms goaltender from Andrew Oglevie and Bryson. The Phantoms then countered back and forced overtime as a Lehigh Valley forward slipped a shot under the pad of Andrew Hammond at the 19:28 mark. During the extra frame, Bryson would complete his third two-point night on the year as he sealed the 3-2 overtime win just 35 seconds into the extra frame.
Two goals, two games and only more to come.
When asked how much more determined he is now than at the beginning of the 2019-20 season Bryson said “I’m just trying to use my speed to the best of my ability because I think that is one of my greatest assets when I play, and I have to perform the best that I can when I’m out on the ice.”
Now that he’s got that newfound confidence and is more willing to join the rush, it sure will be fun to continue to watch Jacob Bryson grow over the next couple years.
Stay tuned for his next chapter happening right here in Rochester.