Quote Me, Howie: Hermantown boys hockey equipment manager Joe Pionk

Joe Pionk. Howie / HowieHanson.com

Hermantown high school boys hockey equipment manager Joe Pionk, a senior and local celebrity, on his primary duties with the two-time defending Minnesota Class A state champion Hawks:

“For a traditional practice make sure that the guys’ equipment is working right, for the most part. When we go on the road I’m basically a mother to the team — get their sticks out and set up the locker room, unpacking extra stuff because there’s always something forgotten — and keep their skates sharp and clean up after them. Equipment managers are described as unsung heroes, and that describes it well. I like being around the team, the guys, every day. It’s my second year, and I hope to continue as an equipment manager again next year for a college hockey program, and possibly continue in the field after college.”

Pionk, on the Class 1A top-ranked Hawks, who face Greenway in the Section 7A final Wednesday in Duluth:

“I’ve been around hockey my entire life, and this team is closer than any team you will ever see. The bond between these guys can’t be broken, and they’re literally a band of brothers. We’re like a big family. It’s awesome being around them, and there’s never any negative vibes. The bus rides, telling jokes with each other, we see everything the same way. We’re helping each other grow as young men trying to become adults. We’re helping each other out whether it’s in school or on the ice. A lot of strong leadership comes from our captains and young coaches.”

Pionk, on the Hermantown boys hockey program:

“Second to none. The development of the kids coming up in the program is impressive. Our pee wees and bantams are ranked in the top-10 in the state, and we expect nothing less from our high school program. Like we always say here in Hermantown, ‘Blue-collar mentality with white-collar talent.’”

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