Centennial beat Champlin Park 4-2 on Friday to win the Section 5AA championship and move on to the state tournament. Photo by Brian Nelson
Hans Gorowsky was signing autographs, posing for pictures and hugging and high-fiving fans.
The kid was a wreck.
In a good way, of course.
Tears of joy flowed uncontrollably after Centennial beat Champlin Park 4-2 on Friday, March 1, in the Section 5AA championship game in front of more than 7,000 fans at a packed State Fairgrounds Coliseum in St. Paul.
“It’s extremely emotional,” said Gorowsky, a senior forward. “It’s something that has never happened to me before. I’ve never thrown my gloves and stick and helmet up in the air.
“That is one of the most special moments I’ve had in my life.”
Centennial's Ryner Gorowsky, a junior forward, scored twice in the Cougars' win over Champlin Park. Photo by Brian Nelson
Gorowsky had three assists and his younger brother Ryner, a junior forward, had two goals as the No. 2-seeded Cougars held off the No. 4 Rebels to reach the state tournament for the first time since 2004. That’s the only other time Centennial has played at state, and the Cougars won it all that season in part because of the infectious will to win of Tom Gorowsky.
“He’s our cousin,” Hans Gorowsky said about Tom, who led the state in scoring as a senior in 2004 and was named Mr. Hockey a day after helping the Cougars win the championship.
Hans Gorowsky remembers that run through the tournament like it was yesterday.
“We were like these little guys right here, just idolizing them,” Hans said as he pointed to the hordes of waist-high kids swarming around the Cougars. “And still, really, to this day we are. And now we get to share this dream.”
Tom Gorowsky, who went on to play at Wisconsin, has been offering advice and encouragement the past few weeks to his cousins as they worked their way through the Section 5AA tournament.
“He’s been talking to Ryner and I just about every night,” Hans said. “Texting, calling, in person, you name it. He’s been telling us what to expect. He’s excited. He told me, ‘I feel like I’m going back to the state tournament with you guys.’ ”
Both of Ryner Gorowsky’s goals came on the power play, as did a goal by Kenny Sinna, the Gorowskys' linemate. Hans Gorowsky helped set up all three.
“Ryner and Hansy tear it up with Kenny on their line,” said senior forward Andrew Bertrand, who scored with 2 minutes, 16 seconds left to give the Cougars their two-goal cushion. “They are a pretty damaging line. Kenny will go in there and bang bodies and those two have got a little finesse in them. That’s a good line for us.”
The Gorowsky brothers play just like their cousin, which is to say they would skate through a cement wall if necessary to secure a win. In this case, the 5-foot-8 Ryner Gorowsky needed only to play his usual gnat-like, instigating style.
“Ryner plays like he is 6-foot-2,” Centennial coach Ritch Menne said. “He is mean and tough and very skilled. You would never guess it, but off the ice, what a fantastic kid. He is a pure leader.”
Hans and Ryner, the Cougars’ scoring leaders with more than 20 goals each, grew up skating on a lake near their house. They do pretty much everything together, and hockey is pretty much everything in their world.
“It makes this 10 times better, doing it with your best friend, your brother, your teammate,” Hans said. “You spend every day with him. It’s unbelievably special.”
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
Champlin Park's Brock Puchalski, left, tries to move the puck past Centennial's Adam Anderson. Photo by Brian Nelson
Centennial defeated Champlin Park 4-2 in the Section 5AA championship game Friday, March 1, at the Warner Coliseum at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul.
Ryner Gorowsky scored two of the game’s four power-play goals. His second goal, tallied at 7:39 of the third period, held up as the game winner.
Gorowsky’s goal gave the Cougars a 3-1 advantage. But Luke Dalman cut the lead to 3-2 with a Rebels goal at 9:44.
Andrew Bertrand countered with a Cougars' goal at 14:44 to put the game out of reach at 4-2.
With the victory, No. 11-ranked Centennial (22-4-2) returns to the state tournament for the first time since 2004. The Cougars won the Class 2A title that season.
Called the difference in Champlin Park’s victory against Blaine, Tyler Nelson found himself called for a rare goalie penalty in the first period Friday.
Nelson’s slash put Centennial on the power play and the Cougars got revenge on Gorowsky’s goal at 12:45.
Trailing 1-0 into the second period, Champlin Park (10-14-4) tied the score 1-1 on Scott Lessard’s power-play goal at 6:53. Centennial reclaimed its lead less than two minutes later as Kenny Sinna scored the game’s third power-play goal, this one at 8:34 of the second period.
-- David La Vaque, Star Tribune staff writer
1. Ryner Gorowsky, Centennial
The junior forward was a buzz saw, a menace, an instigator and, most importantly, a finisher. He scored twice, both coming on the power play, and his 20-footer from the top of the left faceoff circle with 9:21 left in the third period held up as the game winner. Gorowsky is younger brother of linemate Hans Gorowsky and the cousin of Tom Gorowsky, the hero for the Cougars in 2004 when they won the state Class 2A title in their only other appearance on the big stage.
2. Hans Gorowsky, Centennial
A senior forward, Gorowsky was highly emotional after the game. Which is one way to say he lost it. Tears of joy were flowing as he signed autographs for the hordes of Centennial rug rats teeming around the Cougars’ locker room. Oh yeah, Gorowsky was the setup man for the Cougars, finishing with three assists.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
Centennial junior Ryner Gorowsky celebrates his third-period goal. Photo by Brian Nelson