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Focused on development, Sych earns spot in NCAA Division I hockey

Jaryd Sych of the Notre Dame Hounds showed up every day, willing to take in new knowledge and apply it to his game, his coaches said.
Jaryd Sych
Jaryd Sych worked his way up through the ranks. He played on Argos and Hounds teams at such levels as U15 prep, U15 AA, U18 AA, and U18 AAA before joining the Junior A Hounds in the COVID-19 pandemic reduced 2020-2021 campaign.

WILCOX — By firmly focusing on development during his time at Notre Dame, Jaryd Sych has earned the opportunity to play NCAA Division I hockey.

The 19-year-old captain of the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League committed, last season, to study and play at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Penn. starting in 2023-2024. In 2017, Sych came to Wilcox to be a student-athletes at the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame. The defenceman worked his way up through the ranks. He played on Argos and Hounds teams at such levels as U15 prep, U15 AA, U18 AA, and U18 AAA before joining the Junior A Hounds in the COVID-19 pandemic reduced 2020-2021 campaign.

“When I look at this kid, he’s a kid that has taken the development model through and through,” Notre Dame Junior A head coach Brett Pilkington said. “He hasn’t been in a rush to get anywhere. Each and every day he’s willing to take in as much knowledge as anyone is willing to give him and try to transfer it to his game. I think more and more younger players should look up to a guy like this guy – where it is not a rush to get to the highest level as quick as possible. I believe Jaryd will have a bright future not only when he goes to school next year but in years to come at the pro level.”

While Mercyhurst and maybe pro hockey is his future, Sych is focused this season on his continued development and helping the Hounds be successful.

“We have a great group of guys,” he said. “I love every single one of them. I’ll go to bat for any of them. We have a good group here. I’m just excited to play a hockey season with them.”


Elite Player & Leader

The 6-foot3, 194-pound Sych plays a big role on the Hounds’ blue line. Reliable defensively, Sych also chips in at the other end of the rink. As of Tuesday, Sych has two goals and four points in five games. Last season he collected 35 points in 58 regular season contests. Pilkington said the defenceman brings speed, physicality and an offensive upside to the Notre Dame back end.

When asked what makes Sych a top player in the SJHL, Pilkington said, “For me, he’s a guy who shows up each and every day. It doesn’t matter if it is the off-season or in season. Always wants to get better and is always looking for the next, greatest thing to improve his game.”

His work ethic and drive are just some of the reasons why Sych wears the “C” for Notre Dame.

“He’s a Hound through and through,” Pilkington said. “He came to school here … and now is in his second junior year. He knows what the culture is around the school and every day he strives to be better as a player and a person.”

When asked about leading a young team with many new faces, Sych said, “Everyone is willing to work and that’s the best part. … Everyone has a goal and a mindset that they want [something] out of this game. … It’s easy to lead a team like that where everyone wants a part in it.”


Journey to Notre Dame

Sych grew up in Airdrie, Alta. In Grade 7, he moved to Kelowna to be part of the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy. In 2017, he headed to Notre Dame. Sych had family in the region who had brought up Notre Dame. He attended hockey camps at the school growing up.

“Grinding out hockey for a week was amazing,” Sych said.

About the time he became a student at Notre Dame, his family moved to nearby Riceton.


Notre Dame Experience

Sych is certainly pleased he made the move to Wilcox and Notre Dame.

“We’re a family here,” he said. “It’s a great community. It’s a small community obviously, but that’s the best part. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone is friends and family here. … Great community to be a part of. Great facilities, of course. Everyone is willing to develop and get better together.”

While many players in the SJHL billet with local families, the Hounds live in dorms. This creates a unique dynamic for the team.

“The boys are always together,” Sych said. “We bond really quickly. We’re a door away from anyone. … We can also do anything together. We can go to the gym, the city, just have fun. It’s just great. That’s how we get a quick bond early in the season.”

Another unique aspect of the Hounds program is its Olympic-sized ice surface. The strong skating Sych said, “It gives lots of time and space and you’re able to get some speed going in certain situations and a more clear eye view on certain plays.”


Mercyhurst Future

Sych believes his time at Notre Dame has prepared him for Mercyhurst.

“The teachers were amazing,” he said. “Always prepared for post-secondary school. That was the goal for every student.

“Every coach I’ve had here always pushed me to be my best, especially Brett. He’s helped me the past three years now to really prepare me for the next level.”

In some ways, Sych’s university destination reminds him of where he has been for many years.

“I see it as kind of like another Notre Dame personally,” he said. “A nice, again small community. Lots of athletes there, which is amazing.”

The Catholic liberal arts university has 25 varsity level sports teams. It has an enrolment of about 2,800. A “numbers guy,” Sych plans to study business economics. He is considering a minor in sports management.

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