It can’t be easy living in the shadow of two older brothers who’ve broken nearly every school – and even state -- record in the books.
Little Falls junior Joey Hanowski watched as his two older brothers, Beau and Ben, led Little Falls to five straight state Class 1A hockey tournaments earlier this decade.
Beau was a high-scoring forward who led the state in scoring as a senior before moving on to play Divsion I baseball at South Dakota State.
Ben was an even more prolific scorer, setting the all-time state scoring record with more than 400 career points. He’s now at St. Cloud State playing Division I hockey.
“(Joey) has handled it very well,” said Little Falls coach Tony Couture, who’s overseen the program during the brothers’ tenure. “He’s very proud of his brothers and what they did. He’s a great kid, and he’s very athletic, so he’s no slouch either. He does a lot for our school.”
Now it’s Joey’s turn to lead the Flyers. As a sophomore, he netted a team-best 16 goals after moving up to forward from the blue line, but Little Falls won just eight games.
This winter, the Flyers have surged back to state consideration, going 14-3-2 through their first 19 games. Hanowski again paces the team in scoring with 22 goals and 34 points.
The youngest Hanowski has a different style than his high-flying older brothers. He’s not as big, nor as fast. Most of his damage comes through hard work.
We caught up with Hanowski earlier this winter to ask him about growing up in the shadow of two high-scoring older brothers, scoring “garbage” goals and the potential resurgence of the Flyers.
Question: Last year was a bit of a down year with only eight victories after making it to the previous five state tournaments, but you were really young. What have you learned from that experience?
Answer: We’re young enough that we can’t take any game off. We’re not one of those teams that can have an off night and beat someone 6-1. You have to come and show it every night. You have to come out to play every night because we can’t have an off game or we’ll get beat.
Q: What is the key for this team then, is it that consistency?
A: Yes. Consistency and focus. We have to keep that mentality and work hard. We’re not going to out-skill anyone, we’re not that fast, but we work hard and play physical. We take pride in outworking everybody. We’re not going to have the most skill of any team, but we want to outwork everyone that we play.
Q: You’ve been scoring plenty of goals the past two years. Can you give me a short scouting report?
A: People call me the garbage goal guy. I don’t score any pretty goals. I get the rebound tap ins. There’s not pretty goals. When one of your players makes a great play, you have to put it in for them.
Q: I’m sure plenty of people see the name Hanowski and want to compare your scoring exploits to your two older brothers, Beau and Ben. Is that tough to live up to?
A: I’m not anywhere near my brothers. I don’t have the hands or anything. I take pride and my team takes pride on hard work. Beating people to pucks and working hard. Nothing like them.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Garbage goals. Play physical. Play in the system and play smart. I’m not the fastest guy or the guy with the best hands. I’m just “Garbage Goal Joe.”
School: Little Falls
Credentials: Hanowski is younger brother of Beau and Ben Hanowski - both brothers played for Little Falls and Ben set all-time state scoring record. Joey has 34 points (22 goals, 12 assists) through 19 games for Little Falls and has helped keep the Flyers in playoff contention.