From a Gambler to a Gopher: Byron's Brody Lamb will join Minnesota hockey team this fall
Brody Lamb flourished in the second half of his first full season with the United States Hockey League's Green Bay Gamblers. His strong play at the highest level of junior hockey convinced University of Minnesota coach Bob Motzko to bring the Byron native to campus this fall and join a program coming off a conference championship and a Frozen Four appearance.
BYRON, Minn. — Brody Lamb was mentally prepared to play another season of junior hockey.
The former Dodge County boys hockey standout flourished in his first full season in the United States Hockey League, finishing fourth on the Green Bay Gamblers in scoring with 41 points in 62 games, and leading the team with 12 power-play goals.
Still a high school senior, Lamb wasn’t certain if the coaches at the University of Minnesota would be willing to bring him to campus this fall as a true freshman.
Two weeks ago he visited the campus to talk with head coach Bob Motzko and assistant coach Ben Gordon, to whom Lamb had committed in October of 2020. Lamb returned home to Byron with the knowledge that he’ll be a Gopher in a matter of months.
Tuesday night — four days before he graduates from Byron High School — Lamb made it official, signing his National Letter of Intent.
“Obviously it’s one of the best programs in the nation and it’s exciting to be able to join them at such a young age,” Lamb said. “I know it’s not going to be all perfect, I’ll have to go in and prove myself and work hard once I get there. Playing at that level will be awesome; it’s been my dream forever.”
Prior to joining Green Bay, Lamb had the best career in Dodge County boys hockey history. He scored 52 goals and had 87 points in his final season with the Wildcats, his junior year of 2020-21. He was named First Team All-State and the Associated Press High School Player of the Year in Minnesota that season, when he led the Wildcats to a runner-up finish at the Class A state tournament. Lamb finished his high school career with 101 goals and 58 assists in two seasons.
He will join a team and a program with big expectations. The Gophers went 26-13-0 last season, won the Big Ten Conference regular season championship and advanced to the NCAA Division I Frozen Four for the 22nd time in program history before falling to Minnesota State University, Mankato, in the national semifinals.
Lamb watched the Gophers intently during his eight months in Green Bay and the Gophers coaches, while going through the highs and lows of a championship season, were watching him.
Lamb, who was selected by the New York Rangers in the fourth round of the 2021 NHL Draft, started the USHL season more slowly than he had hoped, with nine points in his first 22 games.
“It was definitely a big transition from single-A high school hockey to the USHL,” said the 6-foot-1, 165-pound Lamb, who will turn 19 in late August. “I think that transition period for me was up until Christmastime. Then I hit my stride and after the break I started to produce and score some goals, and that made hockey more fun again.”
Motzko, an Austin native, and Gordon noticed the change in Lamb’s game from holiday time through the end of the season, too. Lamb caught fire starting on Dec. 11, when he scored a goal in a home game against Madison. From that game on, he recorded 16 goals and 33 points in 40 games.
“They said they’d been watching me all year,” Lamb said of his college coaches. “They agreed that the start of my year wasn’t the best, but they also said they know everyone has a transition period. They said they really liked how I finished the season and that was the deciding factor on whether I was going to go up there this fall or not.
“That time after Christmas is what they really liked.”
Lamb credited his coaches in Green Bay — head coach Pat Mikesch and assistants Blake Hietala and Ryan Petersen — with helping his development on the ice and off. He said they encouraged him to battle through the ups and downs of his first full season at the USHL level and continue to play his game.
“I think I’ve become a better skater; my stride overall has gotten better,” Lamb said. “The ability to make quick decisions and quick plays, that was part of that adjustment period, making decisions at a faster rate. At that level, you don’t have as much time and space on the ice.”