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Brandon Biro’s Lifelong Passion Propels Professional Hockey Career

When Brandon Biro was a child, his family naturally signed him and his brother Jordan up for youth soccer. After all, both of his parents, Dawn and Rob Biro, played collegiately. His father even played professionally for a year after college.

Additionally, the Biro brothers played youth hockey, too. Brandon first put on skates at age 2 before getting involved with organized hockey around age four.

If you were to ask Rob which sport Brandon was better at, he would say soccer. But both brothers, especially Brandon, took to hockey like it was second nature.

Brandon in 2009 at 11 years old (Photo: Rob Biro)

“He liked soccer, and he loved hockey,” Rob said. “So, at about 14, he had to choose between the two, and it wasn’t a real issue, so he chose hockey.”

Brandon was always smaller than his counterparts. When he started playing junior hockey, the Canada native clocked in at only 130 pounds. However, that didn’t stop him from rising through the ranks with the Spruce Grove Saints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, winning the AJHL Rookie of the Year award in the 2014-15 season before heading to Penn State to play hockey in 2016. 

Upon leaving Penn State, Brandon ranked eighth all-time in goals (41), fourth all-time on the program’s career point list (116), and third on the career assists list (75.) Brandon was named captain during his senior season with the program in 2019, and in March 2020, he signed his first professional contract with the Buffalo Sabres.

While no hockey player expects their rookie professional season to be easy, they certainly never expected a pandemic to be an obstacle they would need to overcome. Instead of a typical October start date, the NHL kicked off its 2021 season on January 13, and the AHL started its season on February 5.

Biro, who is now playing in the AHL with Rochester Americans, didn’t know where he’d end up as he sat in the hotel room on December 26.

Thirteen hours prior to his arrival in Buffalo, Biro received notice that he would be heading to training camp and would need to leave his hometown of Sherwood Park, Alberta, for Buffalo, New York at 9 a.m. the next morning. 

“[I] kind of scrambled and packed everything in a couple hours and didn’t get a lot of sleep,” Bro said. “Next thing you know, I was on a flight out to Buffalo.”

After a two-week quarantine in a hotel room in Buffalo, Biro was able to get on the ice and experience his first professional training camp. 

“It’s been really fun. It’s been challenging,” Biro said in early January. “Every day, we go to the rink in the morning – get a COVID test done, usually get two meals…Eat breakfast, eat lunch. Go back to the rink, have a workout, and then go to practice right after that. Pretty much been the same every day since camp started.”

Playing with bonafide NHLers isn’t something many hockey players get to experience, nor is playing under coaches within an NHL system. For Biro, the most rewarding part of training camp was the ability to learn and grow as a player.

“Just getting a chance to learn as much as you can and try to take notes at the end of each day, some advice that you might have gotten from the coaches,” Biro said. “I think that’s been probably the most rewarding thing, is just having this wealth of knowledge from guys who have been here – have access to players and coaches that I might not have had access to in the past.”

At the end of the third week of training camp, Biro found out that he would be playing with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. 

“Overall, it was a great experience to get to play with guys that have been in the league for so long and see what they do on a daily basis and kind of what it takes to be a permanent NHL player,” he said. “I tried to learn as much as I could from this camp, and enjoyed every second of it.”

Joining former Penn Stater Brett Murray down in Rochester, Biro started his fourth week of training camp and first week of AHL training camp adjusting to the schedule and life in Rochester. 

“The first few practices last week were a lot of getting used to drills again, and passes, and the speed of everything – because they haven’t had any real practices since it ended last year,” Biro said. “It was definitely a benefit to be in Buffalo, cause we had those couple weeks of practice… It was good to meet new guys and see some new fresh faces and just excited to get the game going here.”

Life outside of training camp in Buffalo was usually spent laying in bed watching Netflix or speaking with family and friends. Biro would turn on his favorite show, “The Office,” if he needed background noise. Life outside training camp in Rochester was almost identical, with the exception of the added excitement of looking for an apartment with Murray.

One of nine former class of 2020 Penn State players to sign an NHL contract, Biro still keeps in touch with his old roommates, Liam Folkes, Peyton Jones, and Sucese, among other former teammates. Outside of speaking with his parents and former teammates, Biro regularly speaks with his childhood friend, Riley Perka. 

Riley Perka (left) and Brandon Biro (right) in third grade at a school event (Photo: Riley Perka)

Having known the oldest Biro brother since kindergarten, Perka also played hockey with Biro when they were around eight or nine years old through Bantam. Perka said Biro’s drive is what sticks out most to him.

“He’s just really competitive and passionate,” Perka said. “He just has a lot of fun doing whatever it is, it doesn’t even have to be hockey-related…He always plays to win, and he has that competitive drive. I think he gets that from his work ethic, and I know that his brother, Jordan, he’s the same way too.

“He put in a lot of work to get to where he is. Where he is now, at his first pro camp…it’s not a surprise that he’s there, that he signed a contract. Having the chance to play with him, and know him, and skate with him over the years, he’s definitely put in a ton of work to get to where he is.”

Brandon Biro (left) and Riley Perka (right) in April of 2019 at Penn State for the Blue-White Game (Photo: Riley Perka)

Rob agrees with Perka. Outside of hard work and determination, Biro’s parents believe he’s been able to get to this point in his career by playing hockey “the right way.”

“He doesn’t cheat, he doesn’t try to get points, he doesn’t leave the zone early. He’s always playing the right way,” Rob said. “As a parent, it’s been fantastic watching him start living the dream that he’s been working for the past 15 to 17 years.”

A day during AHL training camp would start out with a COVID test, followed by breakfast, a team meeting, an off-ice warmup, a long practice, a workout, and end with lunch. Biro, like many other players on his team, looked forward to the start of the season. 

“I’m excited,” Biro said on January 25, only 10 days before the Rochester Americans would play their first game. “I’m honestly not really too nervous. I think being at Buffalo’s camp, been around a lot of the same guys, and skating with them for over a month now. Definitely feel pretty comfortable with the guys and the coaching staff.

“Been practicing a lot and working out a lot, so it’s pretty taxing on your body without actually getting into any games. It’ll be fun. I know we only play the same three teams all season, so that’ll be I’m sure a little bit repetitive, but we’re playing hockey so I’m looking forward to it.”

On Friday, February 12, Biro played his first professional game. 

His parents, who never missed any of his games, were watching from their home in Sherwood Park, Alberta. 

When Biro started playing hockey, he never complained about needing to get up at 5:15 in the morning to go to the rink for practice at 6 a.m. When he had to choose between hockey and soccer at age 14, picking hockey was a no-brainer. His love for the sport was, and still is, unwavering.

“Brandon had a passion to play,” Rob said. “If there was a day off, he was out playing hockey. If there was extra ice (time), he was going to extra ice (time). It wasn’t like, ‘I think I should go,’ or, ‘This would help me.’ It was, ‘I wanna go.’ Everything he did was because he absolutely loved it.”

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About the Author

Acacia Aster Broder

Acacia is a junior from Philadelphia majoring in digital and print journalism with a sports certificate. Although she considers herself a Philadelphian at heart, she is a Toronto and Seattle sports fan. Follow her on Twitter @acaciaaster or Instagram @acaciaastr for hockey takes and mediocre analysis.

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