It was a mild surprise when Garrett Thompson skated his way onto the Traverse City North Stars’ roster as a high schooler back in the summer of 2007. But it was no surprise at all this week when the rangy winger signed with Ferris State University (CCHA) - except maybe to Thompson himself.
“They had been talking with me for a month or so, and we had scheduled a visit to campus,” said Thompson, who grew up in Davidson, Mich., but moved to Traverse City with his family in 2007. “But the visit was on the other side of a three-week recruiting blackout period. I was just sitting at home, trying to get some homework in before class, and saw that (Ferris) head coach Bob Daniels had called. I figured he was just following up and keeping in touch, but he said they didn’t want to have to wait until after the three-week blackout and offered me a spot.”
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Thompson has appeared in 121 regular-season games over three seasons with the Stars, scoring 40 goals and assisting on 40 others. He’s fifth on the team’s all-time scoring list, and one of just five players in the history of the club to register 40 career goals, and five players ever with a 50-point season.
Thompson reached his productive zenith in 2009-10, leading Traverse City with 24 goals, finishing tied for fourth in the NAHL with a plus-30 rating, and reaching the scoresheet in 37 of his 57 outings. He became a veritable metronome of consistency in the second half, with points in 25 of 32 games that included his first career hat trick on Jan. 9 in a 7-2 win over Alpena.
“Three years ago, we took Garrett as a pretty young kid,” said Traverse City head coach Anthony Palumbo. “We had him on the radar, but kind of thought of him more as a year away, but we really liked his size and potential. He made the roster, has worked very hard in his time with us, and is really coming into his own.”
Palumbo says Thompson has the rare blend of smarts, mass and raw ability to go with a dedication to team and the sport itself.
“He has a great work ethic, and a good understanding of the game,” he continued. “He has a sense of what it takes to help his team be successful, whether that’s scoring a goal, playing defense, getting the puck to the right spot, or whatever it needs to be.”
The timing of the offer may have taken Thompson aback, because it also came in the midst of the North Stars’ current playoff run, which naturally tempered his jubilation a bit.
“Of course, there’s the huge relief and the excitement, but we had to play a pair of games down at Janesville, so that kind of tugs you in the other direction,” he explained. “I didn’t exactly want to go into the locker room in the middle of playoff time going, ‘Hey guys, guess what happened!’ So there were a lot of different emotions going on.”