Mission AZ 18U Red’s Thorsen a true throwback on the ice
Dimitri Thorsen was born in Russia and learned to skate in Michigan, but he has truly grown up with the Mission AZ hockey program.
Thorsen is a standout 6-foot-2 defenseman on Mission AZ’s 18U Red team, and has honed his skills on the ice wearing a Mission sweater since he was 11 years old as a Pee Wee. He said playing for Mission teams all these years has been a tremendous experience all around.
“Everyone says it, but the thing that makes Mission special is the brotherhood,” Thorsen said. “Everyone comes together, and it’s about the bigger picture – it’s not just about you. It has been a great experience.”
For Jeremy Goltz, Mission AZ’s director of hockey operations, it has been an honor watching Thorsen’s development throughout his years with Mission.
Nothing makes Goltz more proud than seeing a kid enter his program at a young age and playing through his age 18 season. While he enjoys seeing them improve their hockey skills and get better on the ice, he’s also a big believer that kids who stick with the Mission program develop into young men of strong character as well.
“I have literally watched ‘Demo’ grow up in front of my eyes, having coached him for seven years now,” said Goltz. “He is what I call ‘our last pure warrior’ – not only referring to his play on the ice, but also his mental toughness along the journey.”
Thorsen described his many years playing with Mission AZ as having shaped him in a number of positive ways, both on and off the ice. The competitive level, along with the support and guidance of the coaches he has had along the way, have been big reasons for him to stick with the program.
“Being part of the Mission program prepares you for life beyond the hockey rink,” he said. “It helps you prepare to fight through things if something’s not going your way. As far as hockey goes, I think we’ve all benefited as individual players and as a team by traveling to other states and playing against really competitive teams. That has really given us a different perspective on the game and has helped us improve.”
Thorsen said that only a few years ago, he considered himself just average in terms of toughness on the ice. He knew he had to improve in that area if he wanted to have a chance to play at a higher level, so has made sure to focus on that every time he laced up his skates. The approach applies not just to physical toughness, but mental discipline.
“It was the summer after we lost in the state championship, and I decided that something needed to be different,” Thorsen said.
Added Goltz: “His work ethic is one of the best I have seen, as he puts in the extra hours every week to make sure he is continually improving. I want nothing more for him than to create an opportunity for him to play in a national tournament before his time with Mission AZ is done.”
To that end, Thorsen is hopeful that he and his teammates can continue improving and play well when it counts down the stretch this season. They have performed well in state, but so far, haven’t yet achieved the results they want when traveling across state lines.
While his focus now is on winning as many games as possible with his Mission teammates, Thorsen is hoping to play juniors next season and parlay that into a college hockey career. Goltz is certainly rooting for that, but for the next couple months, will enjoy watching Thorsen skate for the red and white.
“He is a throwback in both attitude and mentality, and I have a ton of respect for this young man,” Goltz said.
— Greg Ball