Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ross brings skill, bloodlines to Cohos

As an avid fisherman on the waters of Northern Michigan, Thomas Ross has pulled in his share of big fish over the years.

However, it was the Traverse City Cohos who reeled in a trophy catch this week, signing Ross to light the lamp and bait the hook for teammates in the Midwest Junior Hockey League’s inaugural campaign. The Livonia Stevenson High School product says he’s found a comfort zone with the Cohos and the environs.

“Obviously, it’s very nice up there – I’ve always loved Traverse City,” said Ross, who graduated in the spring and plans to attend Northwestern Michigan College in the fall. “I have family there and we’ve spent a lot of time fishing on that side of the state. I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity to play the sport I love in a place like TC.”

Cohos head coach-GM Scott Gardiner is equally excited to bring Ross into the fold.

“He’s skilled and speedy and very creative with the puck,” he lauded. “Thomas will be a huge asset to us on special teams, as well as his regular shift as one of the top forwards.”

Ross, who says he derives equal pleasure from scoring goals and assisting on them, says he’s eager to get to work.

“The hope is to be competitive right away, to get as many wins and go as far as we can,” he offered.

The 5-foot-8, 160-pound center tallied 11 goals and assisted on 20 others in 25 contests last season for Stevenson.

But magic with the puck is in the Ross’ DNA.

His father, Tom Ross, is the NCAA’s second all-time scoring leader after racking up 138 tallies and 186 assists from 1973-76 at Michigan State University. After re-writing practically the entire Spartans’ record book, the elder Ross then went on to score 123 goals and set up 178 others over three seasons with Kalamazoo of the International Hockey League.

For some, the long shadow cast by such a storied career might be a burden. Thomas, however, is not among them.

“I don’t feel like there’s a ton of extra pressure on me because my father had a great hockey career,” he explained. “I really enjoyed having him as a coach over the years and he’s a great hockey resource. I know when I talk to him about something, he’s already experienced it and help me work through it. The success he achieved just gives me something to aspire to.”

Given the Ross hockey pedigree, it isn’t surprising to hear Thomas recall that his first time on skates came at the tender age of four.

“We grew up in a hockey family,” he said. “My father, brother, uncle, cousins all played hockey, so they got me on skates pretty early on, but I loved it right away.”

Ross acknowledges that making the transition from high school to juniors can be challenging, but takes a philosophical approach to his hockey journey.

“Obviously, you want to have as much success as you can right away, you want to contribute to a lot of wins right away and we’re all excited to take that next step in the sport,” Ross said. “But as far as individual goals, there really isn’t a number of goals or anything like that to aim for.

“It’s important to have the best hockey experience I can, on and off the ice.”

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