Many athletes dreams conclude with the opportunity to play their sport professionally. At St. Cloud State University this dream has been made possible for many hockey players. Jonny Brodzinksi, a Blaine, Minnesota native now has the pleasure of adding his name to that list. Earlier this week Brodzinski made the trip from the gloomy weather of Ontario to the warm rays of Los Angeles as he hit the ice with the Kings at the Staples Center to face off against the New York Rangers in his NHL debut.
Usually, an athlete’s first appearance in the pros means new faces – not for Brodzinski. The familiar face of former Husky, Nic Dowd greeted him to his left as Brodzinski skated in his right wing position. Dowd and Brodzinski played two seasons together at St. Cloud State and Dowd now has 71 games up on him in the NHL.
Brodzinski led his AHL team, the Ontario Reign, in scoring with 25 goals and 47 points but King’s head coach, Darryl Sutter is hesitant to make any broad claims just yet.
“You just want to try and get (Brodzinski) a game here and there and see where they’re at,” said Sutter.
Unfortunately for Brodzinski, the Rangers tarnished the excitement of his NHL debut with the Kings getting shutout on home ice. This shutout was the second in three games and this time Brodzinski partially takes the blame for a missed opportunity he had on a breakaway. In an interview with Fox Sports Brodzinski said, “I think if we scored on that breakaway I had it’s a totally different game.”
The loss on his opening night as an NHLer can’t completely erase the incredible experience of achieving a life long dream. Four years ago, Brodzinski was called to the stage to test himself in the black and gray jersey of the Los Angeles Kings as he found himself selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. Days since have been spent impressing the Kings AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, and although his debut ended in a King’s loss he tallied over eleven minutes of ice time and three shots on net. Only the popular names of Tanner Pearson, Tyler Tofolli, and Jeff Carter tallied more shots than him.
Win or lose these opportunities are a once in a lifetime experience and Brodzinski holds onto that in the wake of his team’s loss.
“It only happens once so I kind of took everything in,” said Brodzinski.
Although his NHL career is just beginning he has the possibility to follow in the footsteps of past Huskies who have made their mark in the NHL. Former Huskies, Matt Cullen, and Mark Hartigan both have two Stanley Cups and Bret Hedican has one, to name a few. Right now, Brodzinski has eight shots on net, a long way to go before he can reach the success of some former Huskies. However, those eight shots are a good place to start.