They are out there.
They are the players who may not be the leading scorer or the most-skilled member of the team but for whatever reason, they stand out.
Sometimes it’s the swagger, sometimes it’s the electricity, sometimes it’s the anticipation that something good is going to happen.
Richie Pinkowski of the Detroit Fighting Irish of the Midwest Jr. Hockey League is one those players, it would seem.
Pinkowski, a 5-foot-10, 1994 birth-year forward from the Detroit suburb of Allen Park is what Fighting Irish coach Dan Vasquez calls a “ball of energy.”
Pinkowski joined the Fighting Irish in 2013-2014 after playing for Allen Park High School and coaches John Brinthinee and Rick Pinkowski.
To be sure, Pinkowski listened and learned from the pair, one of who is his dad.
The Pinkowskis can be called a hockey family.
Richie’s mom Kelli is a well-known administrator who manages multiple teams.
Richie’s dad Rick — besides coaching at Allen Park High — also coaches youth hockey and volunteers as an administrator on the state level.
And Richie’s brother Adam played in the inaugural season of the MWJHL in 2012-2013 as a forward with the Michigan Ice Dogs and is now a member of the Eastern Michigan University Eagles of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.
At any rate, back to Richie and what he has brought to the Fighting Irish since putting on the green uniform.
“He has an uncanny ability to take on whatever role you ask of him, be it playmaker, forechecker, defensive specialist, enforcer or emotional leader. This is a young man who can and will be a leader of people,” praised Vasquez.
Fighting Irish assistant coach Pete Flynn is also a Pinkowski fan.
“I don’t think there is a player in our league that doesn’t know who Richie is, he makes sure of that night after night,” said Flynn. “The thing is that I think everyone has underestimated his skill and knowledge of the game. He has quick feet, good hands, a love for the game and a willingness to get his nose dirty. Most coaches will look at a player like him and relegate him to a checking-line assignment but we think he brings a lot more to the game and our team.”
The Fighting Irish has named Pinkowski — who had two goals, 10 assists, 12 points and 80 penalty minutes in 33 regular-season games in 2013-2014 — as one of its captains for the 2014-2015 season.
The Fighting Irish will continue to hold open skates on Wednesday evenings at 8:10 through until August 15 at the Ice Box Sports Centre in Brownstown.
For more information visit the Fighting Irish website via http://sports.bluesombrero.com/detroitfightingirish.
PHOTO: Richie Pinkowski of the Detroit Fighting Irish of the MWJHL.