GREEN BAY – Brady Bjork is very familiar with the University of Notre Dame.
It would be pretty hard for him not to be since his parents, two sisters and brother all attended college there.
Bjork’s goal is to follow in their footsteps.
That’s led him to becoming the first member of his family to enroll at Notre Dame, the private high school based in Green Bay.
“It’s a coincidence,” Bjork said.
The senior forward has made an instant impact in his first season with the Tritons hockey team.
Bjork is the Fox River Classic Conference’s leading scorer with 35 points, including 15 goals and 20 assists over 17 games.
“When he gets the puck and is looking to shoot, most of the time he does score when he sets up,” Notre Dame senior defenseman Jadon Motquin said. “When he picks a corner, he picks a corner, and it goes straight in.”
Bjork is aiming to propel Notre Dame to the FRCC title during the conference tournament Friday and Saturday at the Cornerstone Community Center, which has served as his latest hockey home while playing with the Tritons.
The 5-foot-11, 165-pounder has been well-traveled during his four years of high school.
Before his family moved to Green Bay, the Mequon native played for Homestead High School, Culver Military (Ind.) Academy and the 16U Madison Capitols over the last three years.
“When people hear that, they think it is crazy and it is,” Bjork said. “But I was the new kid four times I guess you could say. The thing I had each time was hockey, so I could go to the locker room and be with my teammates and play hockey with no worries because that’s when I just let go and play.”
Bjork grew up playing pond hockey with his older brother, Anders, who is a junior forward at the University of Notre Dame and was selected by the Boston Bruins in the 2014 NHL Draft.
“We watched it in the basement as a family,” Bjork said about his brother’s draft day. “It was real exciting. He got picked, but then our TV stopped working while he got the call from the general manager of the Bruins.”
Bjork also recalls making treks to South Bend, Ind., as a kid to watch Fighting Irish football games with his father, Kirt, who was an All-American hockey player for Notre Dame in the early 1980s.
Bjork’s hockey bloodlines extend to his cousin, Erik Condra, who has played in the NHL and is currently with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. You guessed it, Condra also went to the University of Notre Dame.
Having grown up as a fan of the Fighting Irish, Bjork is determined to earn an opportunity to skate for the program as well. He knows that path will include a few years at the junior level in his future so he can continue to develop and make that dream a reality.
“I think Brady is in a unique, special situation to be at Notre Dame and to be one of the leaders of our program as a senior in high school,” Green Bay Notre Dame hockey coach Cory McCracken said. “For our guys to welcome him with open arms as a senior is a special thing, too.
“He’s got a really unique sense about his awareness on the ice. His hockey sense is really, really high end. His puck skills and playmaking ability are really on the high end. He’s going to have a really successful career playing hockey beyond high school. Obviously, there is some room for him to grow in the game. That’s why he’s playing high school and Team Wisconsin. He still has some development. He’s a little bit more of a later developer than maybe Anders was.”
The idea for the inaugural FRCC tournament developed from the conference coaches.
The six teams in the conference played each other once in the regular season instead of twice like they have done in the past to allow for a tournament.
The top four teams in the regular-season standings are squaring off Friday night at the Cornerstone Community. The semifinals feature Notre Dame against Sheboygan (8 p.m.) and Bay Port vs. De Pere (8:30 p.m.). The winners will meet in Saturday’s championship at 7 p.m.
“It’s kind of going back into the days of old high school hockey in Green Bay where we did a Cofrin Cup,” said McCracken, referring to the Fox Valley High School Hockey League.
“We thought playing each other twice in the regular season and then potentially playing each other for a third time in the (WIAA) playoffs, because we’re all in the same sectional in the playoffs, doesn’t make a lot of sense. So, we play each other one time and we play two more conference games in a playoff situation.”
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