Athlete of the week: Tim Sanford, Elk River, hockey: Perseverance

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Tim Sanford had one season of prep hockey left. He had not made much of a mark on varsity yet but was determined to change that. And he did.

Over the summer, Sanford attended the Elk camps daily, putting in the skating, weight-lifting and dry land work needed to raise his game. Along with better skills, he added size and strength, with a growth spurt combined with all the lifting. He suited up at 6-foot-1 and 188 pounds, compared to 5-11 and 165 last year.

Tim Sanford, Elk senior, made the best of his lone season as a starter, notching 15 goals and 12 assists. (Photo by Bob Burley)

Tim Sanford, Elk River senior forward, made the best of his lone season as a starter, notching 15 goals and 12 assists. (Photo by Bob Burley)

“I was faster and stronger this year,” said Sanford. “Speed was the main thing, and I grew into my body, too.”

Sanford emerged as the Elks’ third-leading scorer with 15 goals and 12 assists, playing on a line with Chase Springman and Jake Jaremko. Also a savvy defender when he dropped back, Sanford had a plus-two rating for the season. He was one of the leaders as the Elks, with just three seniors, finished 16-11 against a strong schedule and placed third in the Northwest Suburban Conference.

“Tim was a solid two-way player for us all year,” assessed coach Gordie Roberts. “He worked hard all summer to put himself in position to do well. He is a low maintenance kid. And he is a great example for kids in high school who did not  play a lot as a junior.”

Because he “persevered” and never gave up, Sanford ended up one of the Elks top three players, the coach said.

“He was a joy to coach, from that angle. Whatever he ends up doing next, he will be successful at it.”

Sanford said his season highlights were, team-wise, the playoff opener, a 4-1 win over Andover in his final home game as the Elks scored four goals in the third period, and, individually, notching two shorthanded goals in a 5-4 win over Maple Grove.

Asked what his roles were, he said: “To be leader and be a difference maker. To score, and help my line score. And come back hard on defense.”

Sanford’s was also the baseball team’s first baseman in 2012 and has one prep season left. He enjoys golf almost as much as his two varsity sports, frequently hitting the links with hockey buddies.

The Elks lost in the section semifinals last Saturday in double overtime to Grand Rapids. While sad the year is over, he was proud to be part of it. “I thought it was a great season considering how young we were,” said Sanford.

The last shot of his prep career is one that might haunt him a little. In overtime against Grand Rapids, he swept past the goal and backhanded the puck over the goalie’s shoulder, only to see it bang into the crossbar. Grand Rapids won in the second OT. “I will see that one in my dreams,” he said.

There was a bright spot after that loss. A scout from the Omaha Lancers of the USHL spoke to Sanford, inviting him to a camp in June. “I had thought I was done (with hockey), but now I’ll go to their camp and see where that goes,” said Sanford. Looking at a career in the financial realm, has been accepted at UM-Duluth but would consider delaying college if a junior opportunity comes up.

THE SANFORD SCORECARD

Tim Sanford

Tim Sanford

Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Patricia and Mark; older sibs Ryan and Rachel … Sports: hockey, baseball … Academics: 3.59 GPA … College plans: UM-Duluth, business or economics

Favorite stuff — Class: Team Sports in P.E. … TV show: Golf Channel programs … Movie: “Greatest Game Ever Played” …. Reading: Sports Illustrated, occasion novels … Food: chicken alfredo and bread at Olive Garden; Chipotle fare … Drink: gatorade, Mt. Dew … Team: Detroit Red Wings … Athlete: Pavel Datsyuk … Kickback activity: golf … Would like to visit: Germany

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