Blaine’s Jonny Brodzinski has played in two state Class AA tournaments, describing those experiences, cumulatively, as “probably one of the best of my life.”
For the Bengals to make a sixth straight state tournament trip and once again experience the rush that goes with playing in front of 18,000 or so hockey fanatics, it will take a monster season from the high-scoring Brodzinski.
Blaine graduated a senior class loaded with firepower, led by last season’s Mr. Hockey and first-round NHL draft pick Nick Bjugstad.
Brodzinski says he learned a lot playing with Bjugstad and other Blaine snipers such as Gavin Tufte over the years. The senior center will need every ounce of that savvy if he is going to accomplish his goal of scoring 80 points (he had 48 last season) and leading the Bengals to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul come March.
The Hockey Hub recently caught up with Brodzinski after an Upper Midwest High School Elite League game. Among other topics, we asked him about the Bengals’ rivalry with Centennial, what it is like playing against his younger brother Michael and which three athletes he would choose to have dinner with.
Question: You and your brother, Michael, are on separate teams in the Elite League. And you each scored a goal tonight. How cool was that?
Answer: That was fun. That was really fun. I think it was about 5 seconds after I scored, too. He’s got a good shot, he’s a defenseman. It’s hard to play against him because he’s such a good defenseman.
Q: Michael is a defenseman and you are a forward. If you have the chance to lay a hit on him in the corner do you back off a little, or do you still go full bore?
A: I’d still go full bore on him. Brotherly love.
Q: Your dad (Mike) played for St. Cloud State. What’s the best trick he’s taught you?
A: Probably face-offs. I’ve won probably every face-off (in the Elite League) this year.
Q: Does your dad tell you any old war stories about his playing days?
A: Yeah. A lot of them. A lot of fights that he says he has gotten into. A lot of that kind of stuff. My grandma, she has got a bunch of videos of all his goals and all that stuff from when he played at St. Cloud.
Q: Are the Huskies showing any interest in you?
A: I saw something on the internet, where it said, ‘Jonny Brodzinski, future Husky.’ But I haven’t talked to any coaches, no.
Q: What’s the best way to beat your brother one-on-one?
A: I’d say drive wide. He’s a pretty good defensive defenseman.
Q: You’ve played in the state tournament two straight years. What’s the best part about that experience?
A: Just so many people that are there. Playing in front of so many people, it’s unbelievable. That’s probably one of the best experiences of my life.
Q: Blaine has had some great players go through the program, including last year’s Mr. Hockey Nick Bjugstad. What have you learned from watching some of the past Bengals greats?
A: I’ve learaned a lot, especially from being on (Bjugstad's) his line. He’s taught me a lot of stuff. Gavin Tufte, he’s kind of been my mentor. Corner work, how to position your body.
Q: Who is the best player you’ve ever been on the ice with?
A: Probably Bjugstad or Ben Lynch. Two Bengals.
Q: Blaine’s rivalry against Centennial is generally regarded as one of the state’s best. What makes it so special?
A: We both hate each other. Blaine hates Centennial. Centennial hates Blaine. Every time we play each other, there’s one or two fights every game.
Q: If you could have dinner with any three athletes, who would you choose and why?
A: Usain Bolt. I want to see how he gets that speed because I kind of want some of that. Sidney Crosby. Have him show some of his moves to me. Probably Marian Gaborik because he’s one of my favorite hockey players.
Upper Midwest High School Elite League Team: Northwest
Height: 5'10 3/4"
Credentials: Brodzinski scored 22 goals and added 26 assists last season in 30 games for the Bengals, who reached the state Class AA tournament for the fifth consecutive season. Through six games in the Elite League he had seven goals and three assists to tie for third in scoring.
College committment: None. Brodzinski says he hasn't heard from any Division I schools, although he has seen his name mentioned on St. Cloud State message boards as a potential recruit (Brodzinski's dad, Mike, played for the Huskies).
Favorite TV show? That’s a tough one, there are so many. I would have to say Jersey Shore.
Fast food addiction? Chipotle
Favorite home-cooked meal? Porcupine meatballs - grandma.
Corvette or 4-wheel drive? 4-wheel drive
Last book you read? Geez, uhhhhm, Hamlet
Crosby or Ovechkin? Crosby
Movie you could watch 1,000 times: The Hangover
Movie you never want to see again: Twilight
Favorite Minnesota Wild player: It was Marian Gaborik. I don’t really have another one.
Beach or Mountains: Beach
Sunset or Sunrise: Sunrise
Steak or lobster: Steak
Best pizza in Blaine: Broadway
Go-to band in your iPod: Linkin Park
Cats or dogs? Dogs
Boxing or mixed martial arts? Boxing