Bryant Christian was the senior captain of American International's 2017-18 team, the one that transitioned the program from a bottom-feeder in Atlantic Hockey to the league's powerhouse.
After graduation, he moved back to Moorhead, the place he grew up and starred on the high school hockey team.
His first year back, the Yellow Jackets reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history. They just so happened to be placed in a regional in Fargo and pitted against his older brother Jordy's alma mater, St. Cloud State, in the first round.
The NCAA tournament was canceled last season due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it returns this weekend.
The Yellow Jackets are back in it for the second time. They once again happened to be placed in Fargo. And this time, their first-round opponent is UND -- the alma mater of Christian's father, Ed, his uncle, Dave, and his cousin, Brock Nelson.
"It's like I've been struck by lightning twice in the exact same spot," Christian said. "It's been a whirlwind for AIC to make the tournament the last couple years and both times be placed in Fargo. The odds of everything. . . I feel incredibly lucky that I get to attend games, watch them and support them. I'm excited for them to experience the most fun regional to be at."
Bryant and Ed are planning to attend the first-round NCAA men's hockey regional game between UND and American International at 8:30 p.m. Friday night in Scheels Arena.
The last time, the Yellow Jackets pulled off a stunning upset, knocking out St. Cloud State, the tournament's No. 1 overall seed. They became the third No. 16 seed to knock out a top seed in the opening round.
"I actually wasn't very surprised, just because I had seen Air Force do it, I had seen RIT do it," said Christian, who now works for Edward Jones in Moorhead. "Atlantic Hockey teams do catch some of these bigger-conference schools off guard with their speed and tenacity they play with. I wasn't surprised, but at the end of the day, the 16-over-a-1 creates an upset story."
Bryant said he watched about one period next to Jordy.
"Ever since then, I've been able to hold that over him," Bryant said. "To be able to hold something over dad. . . that'd be even better."
Ed played on UND's 1982 NCAA national championship team and he has strong ties in the Fargo Regional. The regional's first game is Michigan against Minnesota Duluth. Ed was teammates with Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin for a season at UND. He also was teammates with UND head coach Brad Berry.
Ed said he's a big fan of American International head coach Eric Lang, too. In fact, when hosting his weekly radio show with Jeff Bredahl earlier this year, he hung an American International jersey on the wall next to their three UND sweaters.
"Obviously, with me being at AIC, he's become a pretty big AIC supporter and he likes where the program is headed," Bryant said. "But his blood definitely runs green."
Ed confirmed that.
"I'm a UND Fighting Sioux alum; Bryant is a Yellow Jackets alum," he said. "I loved that I could see him be a part of that transition and putting that program on the map. But I'll be cheering for the Sioux."
Bryant is admittedly superstitious, so he's trying to go to the game with as many of the same people as he did in 2019. His brother, Jordy, won't be able to attend, though.
"This one will be easier than the last one," Ed said. "It was hard having both boys wanting me to cheer for their team. This one is easier, because I cheer for my team and Bryant cheers for his."