Blaine defenseman Michael Brodzinski helped Minnesota Red reach the finals of the Bauer NIT. Photo by Helen Nelson
Michael Brodzinski had his brother, Jonny, yanking him one direction. Good buddy Vinni Lettieri was tugging him in another.
Throw in an offer that was difficult to refuse from Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais, and Brodzinski’s head might as well have been sitting on a DJ’s turntable.
Or in a microwave.
“I think his schoolwork was even suffering some, he was thinking about it so much,” said Mike Brodzinski, Michael’s father.
A Blaine junior, Michael Brodzinski was one of the state’s most heavily recruited players before making a verbal commitment on Thursday, Nov. 3, to play at the University of Minnesota.
The emails, text messages and phone calls wooing Brodzinski came in wave after wave, overstuffing his inboxes.
“I just wanted to get it over with,” Brodzinski said on Saturday about the timing of his decision.
The 5-foot-9½, 182-pound Michael Brodzinski has spent the fall playing in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League for Team Northwest. He scored five goals and added 11 assists in 23 games and was selected to play for Minnesota Red in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League.
Minnesota Red won its second game in as many tries on Saturday, beating Minnesota White 5-1 to earn a spot in the championship game at noon on Sunday against Shattuck-St. Mary’s at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope.
“It was really tough, but in the end I kind of wanted to stay close to home,” said Brodzinski, a smooth skating defenseman with a wicked shot (wrist or slap) who turned down an offer to play in the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. “All my friends were going there, and my family could watch me every night. That’s really what it came down to.”
The Brodzinski brothers led the Bengals to their sixth straight state tournament appearance last season. Jonny, who was a senior, is playing in the United States Hockey League for the Fargo Force this season. He has committed to play at St. Cloud State and was tireless in his attempts to convince his little brother to join him there.
“He was trying to talk me into it the entire time, but it wasn’t happening,” said Michael Brodzinski, who limited his official visits to Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota and Minnesota.
Brodzinski and Lettieri, a Minnetonka junior, have spent several summer as teammates on all-star teams. Lettieri committed to play for the Gophers in late September. Brodzinski and Lettieri (Minnesota White) are playing in the Bauer NIT along with two more Gophers recruits in Edina’s Lou Nanne (Lettieri’s cousin on Minnesota White) and Lakeville South’s Justin Kloos (Minnesota Red). Nanne is a junior and Kloos a senior.
Mike Brodziniski knows something about high-level college hockey. He played two seasons at both Minnesota and St. Cloud State.
“He didn’t really have any involvement in my decision,” Michael said. “He wanted me to go where I wanted to go, and he just let me pick it on my own.”
After Sunday’s Bauer NIT championship, Brodzinski’s focus will be directed to the high school season. Blaine figures to renew what has become an annual battle with Maple Grove for a state tournament berth.
“Hopefully we make it back there,” Brodzinski said. “We won’t be bad. We’ve got a couple of kids in the Elite League. We’ve got Dylan Lambert. He was one of our top scorers last year, he’s got to pull through. So does Nick Malvin, our goalie.”
|Name||High School||Year||Pos.||College||Verbal Commit|
|Spencer Bell||Maple Grove||Senior||F||Wisconsin||Yes|
|Grant Besse||Benilde-St. Margaret's||Junior||F||Wisconsin||Yes|
|Jake Bischoff||Grand Rapids||Junior||D||Minnesota||Yes|
|Andrew Commers||St. Thomas Academy||Senior||F||RPI||Yes|
|Jordan Gross||Maple Grove||Junior||D||Notre Dame||Yes|
|Christian Horn||Benilde-St. Margaret's||Senior||F||Minnesota||Yes|
|Justin Kloos||Lakeville South||Senior||F||Minnesota||Yes|
|Dan Labosky||Benilde-St. Margaret's||Junior||F||Colorado College||Yes|
|Eli May||Eagan||Senior||D||Minnesota State||Yes|
|Judd Peterson||Duluth Marshall||Senior||F||St. Cloud State||Yes|
|Matt Pohlkamp||Brainerd||Senior||F||Bowling Green||Yes|
|Jake Randolph||Duluth East||Senior||F||Nebraska-Omaha||Yes|
|Joe Schuldt||Minnetonka||Senior||D||Michigan Tech||Yes|
|Eric Schurhamer||St. Thomas Academy||Senior||D||Maine||Yes|
|Dylan Steman||Maple Grove||Senior||F||Michigan Tech||Yes|
|Dom Toninato||Duluth East||Senior||F||Minnesota-Duluth||Yes|
|Hunter Warner||Eden Prairie||Sophomore||D||Minnesota State||Yes|