Roman Augustoviz

St. Cloud State hockey standout has waited patiently for his turn

by Roman Augustoviz February 22, 2010 in Hockey

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Bob Motzko was in his first season as head hockey coach at St. Cloud State University when he recruited Garrett Raboin. “We wanted to add some depth and we told him to trust us,” Motzko said.

Raboin did, joining the Huskies as a walk-on paying his own way. He was undersized for a college defenseman even at 5-11, 175 pounds, which he is listed at, but he wanted a chance.

He was 21 then, finishing his third season with the Lincoln (Neb.) Stars of the U.S. Hockey League. Most players in the nation’s top junior league leave after one or two seasons. Raboin waited to fulfill his dream of playing in the WCHA, the best conference in his mind.

“There were times in juniors, I wondered if it would happen or not,” Raboin said, “but I just kept going and the rewards are worth it.”

Raboin, a senior actually closer to 5-10 in height, is the Huskies’ team captain for a second season. He has 77 career points. One more point and Raboin will be the fourth-leading scorer among defensemen in SCSU’s Division I era.

“One of the first days of practice his freshman year, you knew,” Motzko said. “Your coaches do a double-take in the first couple hours. Oh-oh, we didn’t realize we were getting one this good.”

Raboin has been a four-year regular. He missed two early games, then played in the next 132 before sitting out February 12 with the flu. Motzko, as he promised, found a little scholarship money for Raboin his first year and more his second when he was picked an alternate captain.

“Those are the fun ones,” Motzko said. “That’s college athletics when you get surprises like [Raboin]. He’s an unbelievable kid. As good a kid as I have been around and a leader and he is the fiercest competitor.”

With a gentle side. Raboin’s major is special education. His parents are both teachers in that field in Detroit Lakes, Minn. Garrett met many of their students and has some disabled family members. He knew that he, too, wanted to instruct physically and mentally challenged students.

“Just the way they view life, with the cards stacked against them, is inspiring for me,” Raboin said. “You may think you have a bad day—you are really not.”

He recently thanked his parents, Bruce and Amy, for always reminding him how fortunate he is.

His father said Garrett is a natural for a special education career with his sense of humor, patience and unselfishness, adding: “He has been around special needs [individuals] right from birth.”

He was also born into a hockey family. His father was a college player at Providence. Later he played pro hockey in Europe and ran summer hockey camps. “Wherever I’d go, Garrett went,” said Bruce Raboin, his high school coach.

In college, Raboin followed Huskies’ tradition and as a sophomore and junior was a volunteer coach with the St. Cloud Slapshots, an adaptive floor hockey team. “That was a special time,” he said. “I’d teach them the game, incorporating my knowledge of hockey and interest in students with disabilities. It was exciting. I never felt like I was working.”

On the ice, it’s a different story. There Raboin toils and sweats. “He is an iron man; he can play all night long,” Motzko said. “Any physical play this league has had to dish out, he is in the middle of it.”

“He plays the body more than anybody on the team,” said Aaron Marvin, a junior center for the Huskies. “He refuses to lose battles, he refuses to give up.”

Junior Chris Hepp, Raboin’s partner on defense, marvels at his skills and passion. “[Raboin] has that offensive touch,” Hepp said. “He goes and makes plays and I can sit back and watch. He wants it that much more than anyone else.”

Raboin, who has five goals and 13 assists for 18 points this season, said he has to play hard-nosed: “That’s how I play my best, on edge.”

His teammates rely on the player they call Rabs or Grandpa—he turns 25 in March—for funny one-liners in the locker room to ease tension and wise words around the net before games. “[Raboin] does everything the right way,” Hepp said. “He makes it easy to follow him.”

This summer Raboin will marry Emily Lindquist, a woman from his hometown, and look for a pro hockey team short one defenseman.

“Someone will sign him next year,” Motzko said. “[Raboin] will be in the American Hockey League and whatever coach he has is going to love him. And they will decide if he can go further.” Further would be the NHL.

So far, the undrafted Raboin has taken the right path.