Friday, October 24, 2008

Tom Gorowsky Week, Friday Edition: Mr. Hockey

(Photo from

Since Tom Gorowsky will be one of three "Minnesota Mr. Hockey"s on the ice this weekend, I thought it would be nice to take a look back today at Tom's award-winning season . . .

Centennial's Tom Gorowsky said winning the 2004 Mr. Hockey award Sunday was "icing on the cake."

Truth be told, there was already quite a bit of icing on a pretty large cake.

Centennial won just about everything imaginable this season. The Cougars went 30-1, capping the season with their state-record third consecutive shutout Saturday against Moorhead to win their first state championship; Gorowsky was named Metro Player of the Year last week; coach Erik Aus was named Class AA coach of the year; and defenseman Greg Flynn won the first Class AA Herb Brooks award.

The only thing Centennial didn't win was the Frank Brimsek Award, given to the top senior goalie. That went to Apple Valley senior Matt Lundin. Had the voting for the award come after the state tournament, the Cougars' Greg Stutz - who set a record with three shutouts - might have claimed that one, too.

"We kind of cleaned up," said Gorowsky, a senior center.

In earning the Mr. Hockey title, which goes to the top senior in the state, Gorowsky became the first player to win the award and a state championship in the same season since Bloomington Jefferson's Mike Crowley in 1994.

The other finalists were: Will Engasser, Rob Page and J.T. Wyman of Blake; Blake Friesen of Benilde-St. Margaret's; Brian Gifford of Moorhead; Alex Goligoski of Grand Rapids; Jack Hillen and Mike Taylor of Holy Angels; and Sam Kelly of Hill-Murray.

"I'm totally surprised to win," Gorowsky said. "I was just super enthused to be up at the table."

Gorowsky, who has committed to play at Wisconsin in 2005-06 after a year in the United States Hockey League, finished with 40 goals and 54 assists this season.

And here's a bit more from that season . . .

Growing up on Reshanau Lake in the northern suburb of Lino Lakes had its advantages. Every winter, Tom Gorowsky's dad, Don, would help construct a back-yard rink, complete with boards, on the lake.

"We called it `The Gorowsky Gardens,' " said Tom, now a senior at Centennial, a high school which serves Lino Lakes, Circle Pines and other northern suburbs.

Don and his brother, Dan, played hockey together at White Bear Mariner in the 1970s. Dan went on to play four years at Wisconsin; Don "was on the roster" at North Dakota, Tom said.

Many years after playing with and getting tips from his uncle and dad on Reshanau Lake, Gorowsky is a high school star. He led the metro area with 85 points during the regular season and helped Centennial reach the state tournament for the first time in history.

Gorowsky also made some individual history, becoming the first Centennial player to be named the Star Tribune's Metro Player of the Year.

"This whole year has almost been unrealistic," Gorowsky said. "Just with how much support we've gotten from people wishing us well. It's been an eye-opener."

Gorowsky's skills, too, opened some eyes. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, Gorowsky has the power to work through checks and dig pucks out of corners. But he also displays a nice passing touch and has enough finesse to skate around an opponent instead of through him.

While Gorowsky's point total benefitted from some blowout victories, he also scored big against the state's best. In five games against Class AA tournament qualifiers, Gorowsky had seven goals and six assists.

Many colleges recruited him, and Gorowsky narrowed his choices to three schools: Yale, Wisconsin and North Dakota.

The Gophers showed interest in Gorowsky early on, but that interest waned during the recruiting process. He decided to follow in his uncle's footsteps by committing to the Badgers two weeks ago.

"My dad's side of the family really wanted me to go there," Gorowsky said.

He also wears No. 15, just like Dan.

"I suppose I got that from Brett Hull, too," Gorowsky said of the number.

The only blip on an otherwise smooth season came in the final regular-season game against Totino-Grace. Gorowsky landed awkwardly and hurt his leg in the third period, causing him to miss the section quarterfinals against Tri-City.

Though he still was not 100 percent healed, Gorowsky came back for the rest of the section playoffs, recording three points against Roseville and scoring a key goal in the final against Hill-Murray.

"He's a great captain. When he came back from that injury and played, it was big for the team," said junior defenseman R.J. Anderson, another All-Metro player. "He was playing on one leg and was still one of the best players on the ice."

Said Gorowsky: "It wasn't easy to play, but our team has so much depth. I figured if I could distribute the puck a little, it would help."

It wasn't the only sacrifice Gorowsky made this season. Because he was so consumed with his senior season, the family decided not to build "The Gorowsky Gardens" this winter for the first time in many years.

The tradeoff, though, was the euphoria of leading the Cougars to their first state berth. At 27-1 and ranked No. 1 in the state, Centennial has a good chance to extend its dream season all the way to the end of the state tournament.

"Now that we're there, we want to win it," Gorowsky said.

Previous Tom Gorowsky Week posts
Thursday: Game highlights (morning post), Game highlights and other articles (evening post)
Wednesday: 2002-08 Badger Hockey Showdown, Andy Baggot: Looking for Leaders
Tuesday: This Week is Tom Gorowsky Week
Monday: Next Man In