Offense-minded Brodzinski focusing on defense first for Gophers

By DJ Powers

Michael Brodzinski - University of Minnesota

Photo: University of Minnesota defenseman and San Jose Sharks prospect Michael Brodzinski has posted 13 points in 24 games so far in his freshman season (courtesy of Brad Rempel/Icon SMI)

Michael Brodzinski (SJS) is part of a young but outstanding group of defenseman for the University of Minnesota this season. The Ham Lake, MN native is the younger brother of St Cloud State forward Jonny Brodzinski (LAK). The younger Brodzinski has played in 24 games to date for Minnesota, posting 13 points (six goals, seven assists).

Hockey’s Future caught up with Michael Brodzinski after practice on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA to discuss a variety of topics including being a San Jose Sharks prospect.

Q: What is it like playing in your first NCAA Frozen Four?

MB: It’s a great feeling, especially beating my brother in that final game. It was fun, but I didn’t want to rub it in his face too much right at the beginning, but I’m sure I’ll get to it this summer (Laughs). But it’s a great experience being here in the Frozen Four.

Q: Did you receive any texts or phone messages from your brother since getting here that wished you luck against North Dakota?

MB: Yeah. My brother actually wants us to win it all now that we’ve beaten St. Cloud State. (Laughs) I’m sure it’ll be fun.

Q: Did you and Jonny ever play together at any level?

MB: Yeah, we played high school hockey at Blaine together for two years. I was a freshman then sophomore, and he was a junior then senior.

Q: I know that you’re a prospect of the San Jose Sharks. What was your reaction after you found out that the Sharks had selected you in the NHL Draft?

MB: It was a great feeling. The San Jose Sharks are a great organization and I’m glad that I was drafted by them. I was also happy to see my brother get drafted seven picks later by the Kings. That was unbelievable, so it was a great feeling that day for my family.

Q: Did you go to the Sharks’ prospect camp last summer?

MB: No, because I had to take some summer classes.

Q: Do you plan to attend this summer?

MB: Yes, I do.

Q: Have you had any contact with the Sharks at any point during this season?

MB: No. I had some contact with them after I was drafted when they invited me to (the prospect) camp, but nothing since then.

Q: One interesting thing about you and your brother is that, not only are you both rivals in college, but could also potentially be playing for rival teams at the pro level. So that’s sort of interesting the way things are working out for the two of you.

MB: Yeah (Laughs). Jonny actually wanted me to go to St. Cloud really bad. My dad had also gone there. I wanted to go there when I was younger but as I got older, I really wanted to make my own path. So I decided to go to Minnesota because I felt that it was a good fit for me.

Q: Were you ever recruited by St. Cloud State?

MB: Yes

Q: Being at Minnesota, you’re playing for one of the best defensive coaches in college hockey in Mike Guentzel. What is it like playing for him?

MB: He was actually the main reason why I wanted to come to Minnesota. I had always heard great things about him and how he’s an unbelievable coach. He’s lived up to everybody’s expectations (as a coach) and is probably the best coach that I’ve had so far.

Q: What are some of the things that Coach Guentzel has taught you that have made you a better player to this point?

MB: Well, I was always just been an offensive defenseman from the time that I started playing defense and what he has done is really taught me how to play on the defensive side of everything. He would tell me to get the puck out and just play defense first. My mindset had always been offense, so Coach Guentzel has really taught me how to play defense and I think that’s really helped develop my game a lot.

Q: Was that an easy transition for you or was it something that you really had to work at?

MB: I actually had to really work at it because offense had always been (one of) the best parts of my game. But now, I think my defense is coming along pretty well.

Q: What are some of the things that you’re currently working on that you feel will help you get to the next step in your development?

MB: I’d say mainly my defensive play, especially the penalty kill. I had never been on the penalty kill before. Coach Guentzel is really pushing me to get (more) into that aspect of my game, so that I can play on the penalty kill and in all parts of the rink. He wants me to be able to play the last two minutes of the game and wants to be able to trust me out there. So he’s really pushing me a lot and making me a better player.

Follow DJ Powers on Twitter via @DJPowersHF