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‘Doing What He Does Better’

Andover grad Schifsky skates in Frozen Four with Michigan.

Garrett Schifsky scored 16 goals and 18 assists in 41 games for Michigan this season. (MHM Photo / Rick Olson)

ST. PAUL — For Minnesota college hockey fans, the big story is having the Frozen Four in St. Paul this year – but with none of the Minnesota teams involved. There are still a few connections to the tournament among individual players, which is why some Michigan sweatshirts could be seen around the Andover High School hallways this week.

Michigan freshman forward Garrett Schifsky, a 2021 Andover graduate, skated at right wing on the third line for the Wolverines in the Frozen Four. His high school coach, Mark Manney, spoke this week about the excitement in the area to see Schifsky play on such a big stage.

“First, you’re just happy for the kid, because his hard work paid off,” Manney said. “When you advance like this, it’s just another reminder that there’s something bigger than you there, too.”

Garrett Schifsky winds up for a shot against Boston College in the Frozen Four. (MHM Photo / Rick Olson)

The result of Thursday’s second Frozen Four semifinal didn’t go in Michigan’s favor against No. 1 Boston College, however. BC shut out Michigan 4-0, despite the 32 shots on goal from the Wolverines. BC goaltender Jacob Fowler stopped all of them. BC capitalized with a goal only 1 minute, 20 seconds into the game and then extended their lead with a pair of goals 49 seconds apart in the middle frame.

“I thought we brought it to them in the first period, and just kept going,” Schifsky said. “But they generated their stuff off the rush. They had a good goalie tonight. And everything he saw, he stopped. Credit to them. They’re a good team.”

Schifsky finished the game with one official shot on goal. He also fired a shot just wide of the net in the middle of the second period, and he drew a slashing penalty in the third period while driving the net trying to generate a scoring chance and get the Wolverines on the board.

Despite the stinging end to the season, Schifsky said after the game that it was special to come back home and play in front of family and friends at Xcel Energy Center “and try and win something very special.”

Manney noted that as good of a season as Schifsky had, which is wonderful, Schifsky was still down on the list of depth scoring for Michigan; “there’s stars all around him,” Manney said, adding that Schifsky is willing to be a penalty killer since he hasn’t been put in that typical scorer’s role.

Schifsky entered the Frozen Four weekend as the seventh-leading scorer for Michigan with 16 goals and 34 points in 40 games. He was also a plus +18, ranking just behind scoring leaders Gavin Brindley and Rutger McGroarty at +19.

“He’s been put in a regular role, and he’s performing that role well, but he’s also getting goals,” Manney said. “We’re super proud of him.”  

A leader at Andover, then in Waterloo
Schifsky is the second Andover graduate to skate in a Frozen Four. Wyatt Kaiser, a 2020 Andover grad, skated with Minnesota Duluth in the 2021 Frozen Four. He was also a freshman, manning the blue line for the Bulldogs who lost to Massachusetts 3-2 in the semifinals. Kaiser is now in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks organization.

Garrett Schifsky battles for the puck in front of the BC net. (MHM Photo / Rick Olson)

Schifsky played three seasons for Andover, helping lead the program to its first two state tournament appearances in 2020 and 2021. Though Andover lost in the state quarterfinals in those two years, Andover won the consolation bracket in 2020 and took home the Class 2A state championship in 2022.

As a senior captain, he led the Huskies in scoring with 29 goals and 60 points during the 2020-21 season. That year was played out with a shortened schedule in the wake of the pandemic. It was also a season with limitations and restrictions because of the pandemic, so the team couldn’t be together as much. Manney credited Schifsky for his leadership that season, which also carried over into the next season’s state championship team.

“He did a wonderful job of getting the most out of the other kids on that team,” Manney said. “The juniors, or seniors when we won the state tournament, I think that Schifsky had a big impact on them.

“We’ll be forever indebted to him here for taking a group of kids and turning them into professionals, at least for a couple of hours a day for three or four months in the winter.”

Schifsky had continued success in junior hockey, playing for the Waterloo Black Hawks and racking up 100 points (58 goals, 42 assists) in 125 career USHL games. He put up 46 points as an alternate captain in 2021-22 and then 28 goals and 52 points in 57 games last season as the team’s captain.

A coachable, respectful leader
Having watched Schifsky at Andover and then catching a few games when he played for Waterloo, Manney said he sees the same player in Schifsky.

Garrett Schifsky recorded a shot on goal and drew a penalty in the Frozen Four game against BC. (MHM Photo / Rick Olson)

“Just doing what he does better,” Manny said. “That’s what I see. He’s always been so coachable. I think that’s one of the things that sets him apart.

“He’s an active listener and was then (with Andover). If you asked him to try something a different way, he would go out and do it. I think he’s that was in his life, too.”

Beyond the hockey talents, Manney spoke highly of Schifsky with his good character and being a role model for the youth in the Andover community. Schifsky and Kaiser return to Andover in the summers to work for Manney with his summer youth programs.

Schifsky gave credit right back to Manney, someone he said became like a father figure to him.

“Just taught me everything I know to this day, and I couldn’t have done it without him and just great leaders above me,” Schifsky said.

Along with coachability and listening skills, Schifsky is open to new things, which is what Manney said drew Schifsky to Michigan’s program. Schifsky “really just buys into the team thing,” Manney said, referring to him as one of the top three or four leaders the Andover program has ever seen.

“He owned the locker room,” Manney said. “If there’s a kid out of line, it never got to me. Then he was captain in Waterloo, and I’m assuming they saw the same stuff we did.

“He’s a future captain in Michigan, too, someday, I think, for the same reason.”  

Heather's love for watching hockey started when the Minnesota Wild came to town in 2000. Before that, she caught a few Minnesota Moose games as a youngster, and more recently she's kept up with the Austin Bruins and Fargo Force. She's a writer, freelance journalist and blogger who previously worked as a news reporter in Austin and Fergus Falls, Minn. She enjoys watching sports and closely follows the Wild, Minnesota Twins, IndyCar Series, tennis and prep sports. Heather keeps up her sports blog Thoughts from the Stands. You can follow her on Twitter/X @hlrule or Instagram @hlrule.

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