ROCHESTER, Minn. – The Rochester Grizzlies begin their third season of play in the NA3HL this season on October 2, 2020. In anticipation of the new season, the team has announced the hiring of Assistant Coach Austin Balko and other related front-office changes.
Balko, 30, comes to the Grizzlies after spending time the Assistant Coach for the Utah Outliers of the Western States Hockey League. While assisting the Outliers, Balko helped the team to a 108-37 record over the course of three seasons. As a player, Balko played four seasons of collegiate hockey at Minnesota’s St. Mary’s University where he tallied 63 points in 96 games played for the Cardinals and was a two-time All-Conference player. Following college, the Midland, MI, native made his professional hockey debut with the Steel City Warriors of the Federal Prospects Hockey League where he also spent time with the Danville Dashers. Adding to his collegiate and pro experience, Balko also played junior hockey for three seasons in the WSHL with the El Paso Rhinos where he helped the Rhinos to a league title while also setting team records in goals, assists, and points. Balko will join the coaches bench alongside second-year Grizzlies Head Coach Chris Ratzloff and third-year Assistant Coach Mike Aikens.
In addition to his coaching duties, Balko will operate in the team’s front office and serve as the main touchpoint for fans, sponsors, and arena staff. His time will be split between helping the Grizzlies players grow on the ice while also growing the Grizzlies in Rochester and beyond as they embark on another great season in the NA3HL. In the front office, Balko takes the place of Matt Winthrop who remains on at the teams’ play-by-play announcer and game-night social media manager.
Winthrop also leaves behind some weekly media relations duties, to which the Grizzlies didn’t have to look far for a replacement. Rochester has tapped Austin Bruins Director of Broadcasting/Media Relations, TJ Chillot, to take over the weekly media and graphic design duties for the Grizzlies while maintaining his current role with the NAHL club. Chillot, 32, has spent the last five seasons as a broadcaster and media relations manager in the hockey world having worked for the American Hockey League’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the former Mississippi RiverKings of the Southern Professional Hockey League, and begins his third season with the Bruins/Grizzlies organization this coming year.
Up next for the Grizzlies, a test of wills for players hoping to don the black-and-gold this season with Grizzlies Main Camp on August 21-23. Following camp, the Ratzloff, Balko, and Aikens will continue to hone their roster and get down the final 23 ahead of the NA3HL’s opening night on October 2, 2020. More information regarding season tickets, 10-game packs, and more will be emerging in the next couple of weeks. Any immediate questions regarding ticketing, sales and sponsorships, or front office operations can be directed to Austin Balko by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.