Last Thursday, Little Falls HS senior Ben Hanowski broke the career scoring record previously held by NHLer Johnny Pohl, with his 380th career point.
As a general rule, I look at statistics from high school hockey as near meaningless. There's such a disparity in schedule strength between teams, and every team plays at least a handful of games--and sometimes way more than a handful, especially for teams outside the Twin Cities--against teams that just don't have the talent to compete against them. At a certain point, whether a player scores 3 points in a 6-0 rout of Over-Matched Opponent or scores 6 points in a 9-0 rout is trivia. I'd guess 50-75% of those 380 points came while Little Falls already had an insurmountable lead in the games they were playing. It's perhaps appropriate that Hanowski set the record in a 9-1 romp over a team that won 4 games all season.
That's not to take anything away from Hanowski personally. He's an great player, and it's not really his fault.he played a lot of games against teams not up to that level of talent. I may take issue with some of the numbers, but there's no denying that he's a tremendous hockey player.
And that's why I don't really mind seeing Hanowski get his name in the record books and get all the attention that comes along with it. It's an appropriate tribute to a player that has had an amazing high school career. Hanowski started playing for Little Falls HS four years ago as an 9th grader, and has turned Little Falls into a high school hockey institution over that time. The Flyers, once the doormat of central Minnesota, have made three straight state tournament appearances with Hanowski on the team, and are poised for a fourth straight, with this being their best shot to take home a state tournament title.
His first two years, he was a bit overshadowed by equally high-scoring teammate Jared Festler. But Hanowski always had that extra superstar quality. Both were great players, but Hanowski looked like the one destined for the absolute highest levels of hockey.
But the past two seasons are what really cemented his legacy. Two things changed from the previous three years: 1. Jared Festler 2. Ben Hanowski didn't. Jared Festler could have been the one to be breaking these records, but instead opted to spend his senior season of high school in the USHL. It was a perfectly reasonable decision that worked out perfectly fine for Festler. But Hanowski chose to stay with Little Falls. He chose to lead his team to two more state tournaments. And he earned the recognition he's receiving as one of high school hockey's best players.
380 is just a number, in a game that is impossible to quantify with numbers. It doesn't really tell the whole story of just how much Hanowski has done in his high school career. To me, it doesn't really matter if he finishes with 10 points more than Johnny Pohl or 10 points less. What he's done on the ice stands on its own as a great accomplishment, and more than deserving of whatever praise he gets.