Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Warren's Danowski evolving into scorer

By Matt Mackinder
USA Junior Hockey Magazine

After coming to the Texas Tornado at the trading deadline on Jan. 15, 2005 from the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers, forward Derek Danowski has gone from a fourth-line plugger to a top-line sniper.

Danowski got the Tornado on the board in the national championship game last April, eventually won by the Tornado, when Fargo-Moorhead had just taken a 1-0 lead. He had almost a point per game in the playoffs, but this season has emerged as what Texas coach-GM Tony Curtale calls “one of the best stories about this season.”

“When I came here to Texas, I was pretty excited,” Danowski said. “It was an older team with a lot of depth and I fit right in and found my role. I was on the fourth line, but I was still producing. It wasn’t a step down from the USHL because Texas has such a tremendous organization and I think would excel in the USHL with those teams.”

The Warren, Mich., native has been second on the Tornado in scoring for much of the year behind Karl Sellan and has garnered some major Division I college interest. Danowski has his decision pretty much made up for next fall on the college end.

Northern Michigan offered me a half scholarship and it’s looking like I’ll end up there,” said Danowski, who turns 20 on April 16. “With the bigger ice surface there and in the CCHA, I think that fits me very well.”

Danowski said he was also in contact with Ohio State, Bowling Green, Nebraska-Omaha, RIT, Canisius and Connecticut, but NMU made a better offer.

Now with an increased role in Texas, Danowski said he knows the other teams put their top defensemen on him and that in itself is motivation, but pressure all at once.

“If I don’t produce, I feel like I’ve let my team down,” Danowski said. “It makes me feel bad because I should be putting up points.”

Before he heads to Marquette, Danowski has a couple areas he’d like to improve both on and off the ice.

“I need to work on my shot and getting it off quicker,” he said. “I also need to pack on more mass so I can make an impact in the college game.”

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