The name Toporowski is a familiar one to Quad Cities hockey fans.
And after this weekend, it should once again be a part of National Hockey League discussion.
“It’s what every hockey player wants to do growing up. They wanna make the NHL. They want to get drafted,” said NHL prospect Luke Toporowski, a Bettendorf native. “The first kid to be drafted into the NHL from the Quad Cities. It’s a pretty cool thing and I think that grows my some of my confidence.”
Toporowski has played the last two season for the Spokane Chiefs in the Western Hockey League. He’ll likely be selected in the middle-to-late rounds of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft this weekend.
“Obviously this is a pretty stressful time,” Toporowski said. “And as big as it is for me, it’s a huge part for my dad and my brother and my mom.”
There will be at least one person at the draft party who knows exactly what Luke will be going through — his dad, Kerry.
“I didn’t know who was gonna draft me or where, but I just waited and…it’s exciting but also a very nervous time,” Kerry Toporowski said.
Kerry was drafted by San Jose in 1991, but he’s best known around the Quad Cities for his career with the Mallards. That’s the exactly time Luke and his brother Jake developed their love for hockey.
“They grew up with a stick in their hands right when they were one, two years old,” said Toporowski, whose No. 77 was retired by the Mallards in 2004. “They’d come to practices or games with me and come to the locker room afterwards and they’d be playing with the other Mallards players or the coach or the equipment manager.”
After starting their youth careers locally, both Toporowski brothers played bantams in Chicago.
“You’d leave on a Thursday and come back on a Monday,” Kerry said. “Then you’re back in the car on Tuesday for practice.”
That meant tons of miles on the interstate.
“I’d have to leave school, probably an hour to half-hour early each day,” Luke said. “It helped me grow as a person and mature with all those drives and having to be so responsible with everything going on in my life.”
Now that work will finally payoff with a history-making moment for hockey in the Quad Cities.
“It’s nerve wracking, maybe even more so for the parents than the kids,” said Kerry, who now works in the financial sector. “You never wanna see your child disappointed, so just hoping for the best and excited about it.”
The Toporowski’s are expecting the draft-day call sometime on Saturday afternoon.
“It just gives me chills talking about it,” Luke said. “It will be a pretty special moment with my family and friends, but I’m just looking forward to it.”