The LA Kings just added a whole bunch of goals to their prospect pool. Forward Jonny Brodzinski has decided to forgo his senior season at St. Cloud State and turn pro, agreeing to a two-year entry level contract with the team earlier today.
If you read our recent profile on him for the team’s website, you’ll recall the Kings development staff was very high on him. While not the same player as Jeff Carter or Tyler Toffoli, he is believed to be cut from a similar cloth, in that he is a pure goal scorer, a real sniper. Originally drafted in the fifth round (#148 overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, he’s more than earned his stripes since that time.
The Kings top trio of Rob Blake, Mike Futa, and Mark Yannetti met with Brodzinski and his parents yesterday and the youngster told us he would make a decision by the end of the week. In the end, he didn’t need that long. By this morning, the decision was made. Now, the question becomes when he’ll be available to play again, as he suffered an ankle injury this past weekend. Showing what a gamer he is, he played through the pain. After suffering the injury in the first period of SCSU’s Friday night playoff matchup with Michigan Tech, not only did he return in the third period, he scored the game-tying goal with about a minute to go in regulation.
“I was just going to the net and I was trying to turn right, around the net,” he told MayorsManor. “We got a shot on net and the goalie just covered it, so I was just trying to go around the net to the right and a guy kind of pushed my right leg to the left and my ankle twisted in and I fell on it weird. It looked really bad on the video, but I went back to the locker room and [discovered I had a] low and high ankle sprain.”
His return to the game took quite a bit of time, but in Brodzinski’s mind, there was never a question if he would be permanently sidelined.
“I was going to play that game, there was no doubt about it,” he said. “If we lost that game, that was going to be our last game of the season, so you might as well play through pain because I knew it couldn’t get worse. Sure, I could possibly roll it again, which would hurt, but there is nothing you could really do about it.”
The mental torture of watching his team suffer was far worse than his throbbing ankle.
“As soon as I got hurt, those first and second periods were extremely rough for our team. We just didn’t play our game; it was very one-sided,” Brodzkinski continued. “When I came back in the third, it kind of flipped over to our side. Coming into those last five minutes I don’t think we had a doubt in our minds we were going to tie it up, it was just a matter of when. I actually came back with eight minutes left in the first, I just didn’t play. I tested it out on the ice but I couldn’t really step on it, it was extremely painful to even walk on. Second period I took some ibuprofen, I got out there and it was still extremely painful. I couldn’t really turn to the right, so it was mainly just left turns. I played probably two shifts in the second, and then in the third period I played every other shift or every third shift.”
As time wound down, following a scrum in front of the Michigan Tech net, the puck went behind the cage, and one of his teammates popped it out to Brodzinski, who fired home the tying goal. Later, in overtime, one of Michigan Tech’s defenders fell down at the blue line, giving SCSU a 2-on-1, which they converted for the win.
That victory set up a game on Saturday vs. North Dakota, a team St. Cloud had beaten the weekend before. On the line was a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four.
“Playing them earlier, just a week ago, I felt like that was our game, we didn’t give them anything. Plus, coming off an overtime win, you’re going to have a lot of confidence coming out of that too,” said Brodzinski. “That game was just a matter of bounces. A couple of them went their way, we [didn’t] bury a couple of ours. …They battled for their chances and they definitely deserved that win. It was emotional, though. My freshman year we made it to the Frozen Four, and the last two years we’ve come one game short. It’s like having a fresh steak put in front of you and you can’t eat it. It’s extremely tough to swallow.”
Monday brought reality, which sort of smacked him in the face.
“You don’t really think it’s over until you’re sitting at home and you wake up and you don’t have to go to the rink,” he said, with his voice taking on a much more somber tone. “It’s just a weird feeling knowing your season is over. That next school day when you don’t have practice it kind of sets in.”
However, time marches on. And as hard as it may be to turn the page, he’s now ready for the next chapter of his career.
His father played at St. Cloud, under legendary coach Herb Brooks, and Brodzinski is extremely proud to have been part of the recent re-birth of the university. Yet, there’s no denying the power and influence of having Blake, the Kings Assistant GM, sitting across the table from you, laying out your options.
“He’s a guy that went through it too, playing his three years at Bowling Green and signing before his senior year,” stated the 21-year-old forward. “It was great to speak with guys who have done it before too.”
Recently named a finalist for the NCHC Player of the Year and Forward of the Year, Brodzinski’s immediate future is in flux. He is scheduled to meet with a doctor this week for further evaluation of his ankle. Pending those results, specifically when he is cleared to skate again, he could join the Manchester Monarchs for the remainder of the regular season and on into the playoffs.
Interestingly, two of his former SCSU teammates, Nic Dowd and Kevin Gravel, are already there. And in a trivia note, Brodzinski and Dowd were road-roommates when they were in college together.
Brodzinski was a model of offensive consistency over his three years at St. Cloud, scoring 22, 21, and 21 goals as a student-athlete. Moving forward, he’s taking his talents to the AHL, with dreams of eventually reaching the NHL.
For more on the Brodzinski signing, check out today’s clip from NHL Network Radio here and read the article below.
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