Feeling firmly entrenched in his second season as an assistant coach for St. Thomas’ males’s hockey group, Cory Laylin is contemplating shifting from his residence in St. Michael to be nearer to St. Paul.
That is to not say that Laylin, a St. Cloud native, has ever shied away from touring nice distances to stay part of the sport he has cherished since childhood. Following 4 seasons as a ahead for the Gophers, Laylin launched into a 16-year skilled profession in Europe that included stops in Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark. I additionally coached a yr in Italy.
By way of all of it, together with a distinguished teaching profession, Minnesota remained his residence base, which finally paid off for the Tommies (7-15-2 general and 6-10-2 within the CCHA), who take a three-game unbeaten streak ( 2-0-1) into their two-game sequence at Arizona State that begins Friday night time.
“I am so blessed to be part of this program and this college,” Laylin mentioned. “I get up and pinch myself each morning. The path we’re going… it is fairly thrilling.”
Laylin can be revealing in the truth that his oldest son, Luc, is a freshman ahead for the Tommies. One other son, Casy, additionally a ahead, who’s presently taking part in junior hockey for Salmon Arm in British Columbia, will be a part of St. Thomas for the 2024-25 season.
The youngest of Cory and Stacy Laylin’s three boys, 15-year-old Bode, performs protection on the 16U group at North Star Christian Academy in Alexandria. Laylin does not rule out the potential for all three of his sons de él will find yourself taking part in for the Tommies—maybe all on the identical time.
“Would not that be particular?” he mentioned.
That risk has its roots in a cellphone name that, for Laylin, got here out of the blue.
The Cellphone Name
Tommies head coach Rico Blasi and Laylin had by no means met when Blasi reached out in the summertime of 2021 to gauge Laylin’s curiosity in becoming a member of his employees. Laylin had simply accomplished his seventh season as Hamline’s head coach.
“We’ve mutual associates who introduced his title to me,” Blasi mentioned earlier than including with a smile, “I believe he accepted in about 10 seconds.”
Laylin was 38 when his taking part in profession ended. Not figuring out what he would do subsequent, he began a hockey college in Maple Grove. “When my spouse gave me the inexperienced mild to teach, figuring out that we must zip round a bit of bit, it was like, ‘OK, let’s go for it.’ ”
Former Gophers participant Scott Bell was teaching at Hamline and introduced Laylin on as an assistant. Laylin then spent a while teaching in junior hockey earlier than returning to Hamline as head coach.
“We went from worst to first in our first yr, which was a terrific expertise,” Laylin mentioned.
His worldwide teaching expertise included being the pinnacle coach for Staff USA on the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, assistant coach for the Below-18 group within the 2017 Hlinka Cup and head coach for the U17 group the 2016 5 Nations Cup.
“It has been a terrific match,” Blasi mentioned. “He is an excellent hockey individual, well-known right here within the state. He performed professional for a very long time and is basically knowledgible in regards to the recreation. And his care degree of him is thru the roof.”
Laylin mentioned it was a simple determination to just accept the job, regardless that it meant going from being a head coach to an assistant.
“I used to be a head coach for therefore lengthy,” he mentioned. “You want alternatives to develop and be taught so you possibly can higher your self, too. As a head coach, you sort of do issues your manner, so it is enjoyable to be taught other ways.”
Laylin was a productive ahead for the Gophers from 1989-1992. He collected 58 targets and 107 factors from 1988-92 and ranks fifteenth all time with 170 video games performed. The Gophers certified for the NCAA match all 4 years.
“I used to be a bit of the puzzle that made us profitable,” Laylin mentioned. “I labored exhausting and did no matter I used to be instructed to do.”
The spotlight of Laylin’s Gophers profession additionally represents his largest disappointment. The Gophers reached the NCAA championship recreation of their freshman season however misplaced to Harvard 4-3 in time beyond regulation at St. Paul’s Civic Heart.
“That was a troublesome one to swallow—for the entire state of Minnesota,” Laylin mentioned. “I’ve nonetheless by no means watched (a tape of) it.”
Laylin was an Eleventh-round draft choose of the Pittsburgh Penguins within the 1989 however by no means acquired the possibility to play for the Penguins, who had a deep and gifted group. So, he turned to Europe, the place a group wanted led him switching from ahead to protection.
“I went again on ‘D’ and scored as a lot as a defenseman as I did as a ahead,” Laylin mentioned. “I used to be an excellent skater, and I discovered the sport from the defensive facet of issues. I ended up taking part in a 16-year professional profession as a defenseman.”
Stacy Laylin (nee Bjorklund) was a monitor athlete and a cheerleader on the U on the identical time Cory was on campus. They married in 1999 after reconnecting after faculty and settled into a lifetime of spending hockey seasons in Europe and summers in Minnesota.
Luc was born in Germany, Casey in Switzerland and Bode in Minnesota. Though he was younger, Luc vividly remembers sitting within the stands of sold-out rinks in Germany cheering for his dad.
“I’ve seemed as much as him my entire life,” he mentioned.
Now, they’re a part of the identical group, with each appreciating the “separation” that comes with Cory teaching the defensemen and Luc taking part in ahead. Cory considers having his son be a part of this system an surprising pleasure.
“It was not a part of the plan,” Laylin mentioned. “It is actually a pleasure to be round him and to trace him, however he is actually one of many guys. On the rink he it is very skilled, however at Christmas and at Thanksgiving it is enjoyable to sit down round and discuss issues.”
Luc is among the many group’s main scorers with 5 targets and eight assists. Whereas he has rapidly proven that he can play on the Division I degree, he mentioned St. Thomas was the one Division I program that made him a proposal. Blasi believes Luc’s dimension of him (5-foot-8, 170 kilos) in all probability had so much to do with that.
“He has at all times been undersized so he has needed to be taught to play (accordingly),” Blasi mentioned. “However he has at all times been in a position to rating; he is proven it at each degree. He matches the mildew of a few of the guys I’ve coached over time. I had no questions on his dimension of him.”
Like his dad, it did not take an excessive amount of convincing from Blasi for Luc, who performed for St. Michael-Albertville Excessive College and three years of junior hockey, to just accept the provide to affix the Tommies.
“I simply felt like St. Thomas was the correct spot for me,” he mentioned, including that he appreciated the chance to have the possibility to contribute immediately.
“I do know it may be exhausting for (younger) guys to get into the lineup,” he mentioned. “It is good that each one of our coaches are giving all of the freshmen a shot. And we’re getting higher, everybody—individually and as a group.”
The Tommies have proven marked enchancment of their second season of Division I hockey as their expertise degree continues to extend. Changing into a contender within the CCHA is the following step, however the group throughout the river is of their websites, too. The Gophers and Tommies will play a home-and-home sequence every of the following two seasons, which is able to doubtless grow to be an everyday incidence.
The Gophers’ present lineup options gamers Laylin has coached, in addition to sons of former Gophers teammates, and his affection for this system and the college stays robust. However simply as he discovered happiness and success throughout the pond, he feels at residence throughout the river.
“They’re already on the prime of the mountain and we’re working our manner up,” Laylin mentioned of the Gophers. “I believe that the rivalry will probably be nice for your complete state of Minnesota.”