Dedication, intensity to hockey takes center stage
by Jason Olson
“Eat Sleep Hockey” might sound more like a way of life for any hockey family, but it is also the title of North Metro 15 Television’s documentary that follows two hockey families, one from Centennial and another Blaine.
The official unveiling of the 33-minute documentary at Andover Cinema took place Feb. 29 and included a red carpet and official photographer to complete the red-carpet/opening night feel.
The $5 ticket fee was a fund-raiser for the two youth hockey associations for Centennial and Blaine, which only added to the motivation to fill the 230-plus seat theater.
North Metro TV’s Damian Kussian directed and edited the film which follows two families over several months of doing precisely what the title indicates: eating and sleeping hockey in many areas of their lives.
The idea for the film came from an assignment to shoot some film of the two families for an upcoming segment on a broadcast.
“My spider senses went off after I saw the passion both families have for the sport and how hockey is really a 365-day, 24/7 thing for them,” Kussian said. “So I asked if we could keep filming and we did a much larger piece.”
Following two families around their daily routines with a camera took some adjustments.
The Brodzinskis were chosen to be the Blaine perspective as they not only own Hockey Central, but father Mike played at St. Cloud State University under Herb Brooks in the 1980s, then in the St. Louis Blues farm system, primarily for the Peoria Riverman after St. Cloud.
Sons Jonny and Michael excelled at Blaine High School and offer a perspective that reaches beyond Blaine. In addition to playing in Fargo this season,
Jonny plans to play next season at St. Cloud State. Michael verbally committed to the University of Minnesota in two seasons and was recently traded from the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers to the Muskegeon club. The Brodzinskis’ younger boys include Easton, a ninth-grader who currently plays on the Blaine JV team, and Bryce, who plays on a BYHA pee wee team.
Mike Brodzinski continues to play in an adult league and his wife Kathy played in a league. For the last seven years the Brodzinskis have owned and operated Hockey Central, a hockey pro shop with two locations in Blaine including a shop inside the Schwan Super Rink at the National Sports Center.
The Hughes family of Lino Lakes represents the Centennial component of the file. Terry Hughes played at Minnesota State-Mankato and is now the president of the Skate to Excellence AAA Hockey Program at the Super Rink. The Hughes children include Trey, who plays for the Junior A’s El Paso Rhinos of the Western States hockey League, Colin, a sophomore at Centennial, and Gabby, who is part of the 12U team.
According to Brodzinski, the process began in the fall 2010 with an idea to follow two hockey families. His family was chosen out of about 20.
“It started as a little documentary about how crazy people get about hockey,” he said. “They came to the store to shoot, followed Jonny and Michael and the rest of us around for pre-game rituals, miked us up at the games and it’s a good thing they have a bleep out.”
Kussian said the families were great to work with.
“They were both open to the idea but it was kind of awkward at first with the camera,” he said. “Once they were comfortable we got some real emotions and they forgot about the camera.”
Viewers never hear from Kussian and his staff. “We kind of go on a journey with the families and hope for something interesting that was said or seen,” he said.
Now was figured to be the best time of the year to release a film like this with the state boys’ hockey playoffs in full swing.
The cameras recently returned for an update on the Brodzinskis to show how life has changed around their house since Jonny now plays hockey in Fargo.
“We did a short follow-up at the end of the movie with a picture and small paragraph of where they are now,” Kussian said.
Next up for the film is to try and enter it at various small film festivals and to show it exclusively on North Metro TV for a while then perhaps send it statewide for broadcast.
The trailer, which is posted on You Tube, had more than 1,600 views which blows away any expectations Kussian and his staff had. “We really had no extra budget for it,” he said. “We had to really use our resources at the station. We spent some money on posters and had a sponsor for the red carpet and premiere event.