Gavin Bayreuther went from college student to professional athlete in less than a week.
The 22-year-old defenseman signed for the Stars last Wednesday on an amateur tryout agreement from St. Lawrence University. He’s already made an impact, scoring one goal and tallying one assist in five games.
“I’m very fortunate to be put into this position,” Bayreuther said. “The coaches have trust in me and I’m going to continue to try and build that trust. I’m going to try and play a smart, simple game and be on the up and up.”
He scored eight goals with a team-high 21 assists during his senior year with the Saints and finished the season tied for fifth among all-Eastern College Athletic Conference defensemen with 17 points in conference play.
Bayreuther graduated as the school’s all-time leader in goals by a defenseman with 35 and was a two-time All-ECAC First Team honoree.
“He’s a heads up defenseman that moves the puck well and has a lot of patience,” Stars head coach Derek Laxdal said. “He’s got some things in his skating that he has to improve on. But I think he’ll be fine. He’s got some offensive upside and you’ll probably see him start here next year.”
It didn’t take Bayreuther long to get acclimated with his new team. He scored his first goal in his professional debut, netting a power play goal in the Stars’ 4-0 win on the road against Cleveland on March 17.
He continued to get work on the power play early in his professional career and assisted on Julius Honka’s goal in Texas’ 4-3 overtime win last night against the Tucson Roadrunners.
Laxdal said it’s an advantage to have Bayreuther here for the rest of the season. Other new signings have to acclimate themselves to the team in a short time at the beginning of the season, while Bayreuther will have a head start.
“Sometimes they get thrown in the fire,” he said. “He’s going to have to earn things moving forward here. But it’s not like he hasn’t with his play on the power play. That’s one area we’ve been struggling and he’s been a bright spot. The more we win, the more we push the guys.”
The Stars (.492 percentage points) are fighting for their playoff lives and sit just percentage points behind Stockton (.525) and Bakersfield (.559) for the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division. They begin a three-game road trip Friday at 7 p.m. on the road against the Rockford IceHogs.
Despite the uphill battle, Bayreuther was happy to find the team in good spirits and focused. He’s seen his game improve in his short time since coming to the Lone Star State.
“The guys are trying to keep it light,” he said. “You can’t hold your sticks too tight or else you’re going to panic. The older guys have been really good about that. There are some really good leaders in this locker room and I’m already learning a lot.”