Flying under the radar is nothing new — or troublesome — to Bryce Kindopp.
The 19-year-old Everett Silvertips forward hasn’t built a reputation on flashy plays or jaw-dropping goals — but rather on “team plays” — blocking shots on the penalty, screening shots in front of the goaltender.
“I think I’ve always took pride in that being a big part of my game,” Kindopp said. “I’ve had good coaches growing up my whole life, so I think it just starts with the simple stuff. Getting pucks out, getting pucks in, going to the net and you’ll get rewarded. I think that’s where I built my foundation from.”
Kindopp has been rewarded plenty this season, posting 12 points (six goals, six assists) in the first 17 games. It’s a continuation of his breakout season in 2017-2018, in which Kindopp potted 24 goals.
“It was definitely something I wanted to do going into last year, break out and make a statement,” Kindopp said. “Even get into the top six. I think I just started out doing the simple things and the coaches started to notice and give me more opportunities.”
That role has only increased this season, and he’s embraced being solidly in Everett’s top-six forward group while not sacrificing the intangibles that helped him garner respect amongst his teammates and coaches in the past.
“He’s a highly detailed-oriented player,” assistant coach Harry Mahood said. “We encourage our young players to watch how he plays all the time, because the details in his game defensively, offensively or on loose pucks is quite possibly the best in the league. He plays like a pro.
“When you see a humble warrior doing things all the right way, it’s really inspiring. The level of respect he receives from his teammates is off the charts.”
Kindopp’s interest in the game was sparked in the backyard of his families’ residence in Lloydminster, a municipality that straddles the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. His father, Vince, rigged a makeshift ice flooder and assembled a 3/4 size rink — equipped with surrounding boards and lights — on their acreage property for his three sons, Kaden, Tanner and Bryce, and daughter, Cassia, to skate on growing up.
Vince figured if he had the space, he might as well build it, instead of schlepping his sons back and forth from the local rink constantly.
“It was just so easy. The kids would get off the bus and you could hardly get them ready fast enough,” Vince said.
As Kaden and Tanner’s novice hockey careers were starting, Bryce would run around the rink in his boots as his older brothers whizzed around the ice on skates. Eventually, when he was about 4, his father relented and let him wear one skate for their family ice sessions.
“For a whole year he used to come up and say, ‘Please, dad. One skate!’” Vince said. “So I put one skate on him, a boot on the other and away he went.”
The Kindopp’s backyard rink was the host of several neighborhood shinny games growing up. The three brothers and their friends around the area, which included former Silvertips player Jantzen Leslie, flocked to the Kindopp’s estate to play.
“We just spent hours and hours and hours playing on that rink,” Vince said. “There was always a shinny game going on.”
It was during those instances that Bryce developed a love of the game.
“Going outside with the cool air, no fans, nobody really in your head, it really helped me grow my love for the game, for sure,” Kindopp said.
As Bryce’s hockey career progressed and he competed at higher levels, the idea of playing in the Western Hockey League slowly crept into his mind.
It only intensified in 2013-2014 when he joined the Lloydminster Heat AAA Bantam team as a 14 year old. It was a stacked group, featuring WHL players — future Spokane defenseman and first-round NHL draft pick Ty Smith, Kamloops forwards Zane Franklin, Kobe Mohr and Orrin Centazzo, Saskatoon forward Chase Woulters, Seattle forward Jaxan Kaluski and Prince George defenseman Ryan Schoettler. The team lost only one Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League game that season en route to a league championship and fell in double overtime in the Western Canada Bantam AAA title game.
Bryce played on the second line during that season with Logan Ganie and Chase Stephenson —with Franklin, Mohr and Woulters handling the top line. It was playing on that team that sharpened many of those winning intangibles.
Scouts arrived in droves to their games to see his bantam team play, but once again Kindopp fell under the radar, saying that many scouting services projected him to go in the later rounds.
Bryce said he was taking a test when his teacher blurted out that he was just drafted by the Silvertips in the third round. It took him by surprise.
“I didn’t really expect to go as high as I did,” Bryce said.
But there was a reason Everett coveted him as a player.
“He was doing all of the same things that we’re seeing him do right now,” Davidson said. “I thought if he continued to develop, he could be a top-six guy and a solid team player at our level. And that’s what we’re seeing now.”
They call him ‘Larry’
A game of Mario Kart at Bryce’s billet’s house last year spurred one of the team’s strongest nicknames. The group stumbled upon a character they’ve never seen before, dubbed ‘Larry,’ and Bryce was gravitated to it. From then on, it’s been his go-to character and a nickname for him on and off the ice.
“It was supposed to be a group thing and we were all supposed to call each other by our Mario Kart names, but it only stuck with me apparently,” Bryce said.
“Larry” has shared a billet house with Silvertips captain Connor Dewar and the two have formed a robust friendship. Dewar is one of the first to sing Bryce’s praises about his team-first attitude and his off-the-ice leadership.
“He hates getting the credit for things,” Dewar said. “He’s just the ultimate guy. It’s hard to find anything wrong with him personality-wise. … He just brings comfort to everyone because you know what you get with him.
“When I see his jersey, I see he has a letter, even if there isn’t one. I think he knows that, too, and everyone appreciates that and sees him as a leader too.”