BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
It’s been quite the roller coaster ride for Clarkston native Tony Malinowski.
Just after leaving town to play his second season of junior hockey for the United States Hockey League’s Des Moines (Iowa) Buccaneers at the end of last summer, Malinowski’s mother, Michele, passed away on Sept. 26, 2018, at the age of 49 after battling multiple system atrophy.
“It was pretty tough – my mom was always supporting me and always checked in on me while I was gone,” said Malinowski. “My mom came to all my games that she could make. It was tough for her to travel and stay up for the entire game, but she did her best. If she wasn’t at the game, she was watching it on TV with my dad (also Tony) back at the house.”
When his mother passed away, the Des Moines team came to Clarkston for the funeral, he said.
“I was so grateful that my team took the time to come visit me and my family during the tough time,” he said. “We had so much support from Clarkston, family, friends, and sports teams and we can’t thank them enough.”
A defenseman who turns 20 on Oct. 15, Malinowski went on to score a goal and seven assists for eight points in 42 games last season. He posted the same numbers in 40 games the year prior after playing six games at the start of that 2017-18 season for the Tri-City (Neb.) Storm, recording one assist.
During his first USHL season, Malinowski committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for powerhouse Minnesota State University, a school located in Mankato, Minn., that plays in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
“When I was offered a spot at Mankato, it was a dream come true for me,” said Malinowski. “It is still pretty fresh. I love the coach (Mike Hastings) and the school and I’m excited to get started. I spent six weeks this summer in Mankato. During my time there, I got familiar with the campus and the team. I’m excited to get back and get started. Academically, I’m not sure exactly what I want to do, but I know I want to do something in business.”
Malinowski said he was first introduced to the game playing street hockey with a neighbor in Clarkston.
“Shortly after that, my dad bought me hockey gear and I went out on the ice and immediately fell in love with the game,” said Malinowski, who also played football, baseball and basketball growing up. “I have lived in Clarkston my entire life. I love how close this community is and how everyone supports each other.”
Malinowski went to Clarkston High School through his junior year and finished high school online while he was in Des Moines, graduating in 2018. He also attended Independence Elementary, Sashabaw Middle School and Clarkston Junior High.