MOLINE, Ill. — The Quad City Storm saved some history for their sophomore season, as on Monday they announced the addition of an assistant coach to their hockey operations staff. Jake Toporowski, son of famed Quad City Mallards enforcer Kerry Toporowski, has been named as the Storm’s assistant coach under head coach Dave Pszenyczny.
Bettendorf, Iowa native Jake Toporowski began his hockey career with the Western Hockey League (WHL) Spokane Chiefs in 2014. Before retiring at the start of the 2017-18 season to pursue higher education, the defenseman appeared in 105 games between regular season and playoff action, adding ten assists.
Idaho Steelheads assistant coach Scott Burt, who served as an assistant coach for the Chiefs from 2013-19, spoke highly of Toporowski’s work ethic. “Jake was a hard worker. He was a young kid when I had him that loved to do extra work after practice. He did whatever the coaches asked him to do. That being said, if he wasn’t in the lineup that night, he was maybe at points doing video for the coaches during games, so he would get the coaching side of it already and seeing the different side of coaching and playing at the same time. But he was a hard worker inside and out for sure.”
Besides just doing video for the coaches, Toporowski always was ready to learn. “He was a quick learner, very smart kid in school and off the ice, but he was a guy that wasn’t afraid to come into the coaches’ room and talk to the coaches, ask why, and he always wanted to do extra. Anything we asked him to do, he did,” continued Burt.
Pszenyczny also spoke highly of the new addition to the Storm coaching staff. “There are players that just play the game of hockey, and then there are students of the game. With Jake wanting to get more involved in just playing the game shows he has the capabilities of contributing greatly to the game of hockey. That being said, it was an easy decision for me to hire him.”
In addition to serving as the assistant coach for the Storm, Toporowski will continue serving as an area scout for the Chiefs. Burt characterized Toporowski as a “bird-dog watching the players… he just wanted to be more intuned with what we were doing in Spokane.” As a bird dog, Toporowski would pass the names of players to the major scouts for Spokane, who would then take things from there.
The 21-year-old, like many young hockey players, has a hockey coaching business — JT23 Hockey. This company offers clinics as well as one-on-one coaching from both Jake and his younger brother Luke at The River’s Edge in Davenport, Iowa. Making the transition between coaching younger players to professionals will be more natural because of his experience helping the coaches in Spokane. Pszenyczny believes his assistant coach has already proven himself capable due to the experience with the Chiefs.
The Storm coaching staff consists of two former defensemen, something Pszenyczny sees only as a boon. “I’ve always felt that as a defenseman, you see the game differently than a forward. We see the entire ice when out there, and you see plays develop from a distance, which helps out with our offensive game.”
“It was always in my head that I wanted to stay around the game,” said Toporowski. “I wasn’t going to play forever, and I knew when I was done playing I wanted to stay around the game. I didn’t know what part of the game I wanted to go into, but I always knew coaching was a potential option.”
“I guess everything has kind of come full circle now that I’m back home and coaching in that rink, and I guess there’s really no better place to get started than in the rink I grew up skating in.” continued Toporowski.
The Storm will take the ice at home for the first time in the 2019-20 season on October 25th. Keep your eyes peeled on @SinBinStorm for the latest news, updates, and discussions.