Prep Newsmaker: Guzzo is Silver Bay standoutTaylor Guzzo made the hour drive from Silver Bay to Duluth three times a week this past summer to work out.
By: Jon Nowacki, Duluth News Tribune
Taylor Guzzo made the hour drive from Silver Bay to Duluth three times a week this past summer to work out.
Sometimes her legs hurt and her muscles ached, but for three to four hours each day she dedicated herself to getting better, lifting weights early in the day and later training on a special treadmill designed to simulate skating. Then she’d return home and skate and shoot pucks at the rink.
Guzzo’s dedication is paying off this winter as the Silver Bay Area senior center leads the Northland in scoring with 54 points on 24 goals and 30 assists. Nobody could be more pleased or proud than her staunchest critic, her father, Mike, coach of the Mariners and the longtime rink manager in Silver Bay. The two are intense.
“Taylor was always a playmaker, but now she is a scorer, too,” Mike Guzzo said. “She worked really hard in the offseason and it’s made a big difference in her game. Her shot is a lot harder and her skating is a lot stronger. She’s a great example of how hard work can pay off. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Mike Guzzo also coaches softball, and Taylor is a standout in that sport and volleyball as well, but in the Guzzo family, hockey is king.
“Hockey is definitely my favorite,” Taylor Guzzo said. “It seems like I’ve been playing it forever. I used to follow my dad to the rink. It will always have a special place with me.”
Silver Bay Area (15-9), a cooperative that features Silver Bay, Cook County, Two Harbors, Babbitt and Ely, is hoping to secure a No. 2 seed for the Section 7A playoffs beginning Feb. 9. Taylor Guzzo’s immediate goal is to lead the Mariners to their first state tournament, but she also has a dream of playing NCAA Division I hockey.
Taylor Guzzo said Bemidji State and Minnesota State-Mankato have shown interest, but she wants to see what develops as the season winds down. Her sister, Libby, played at Minnesota Duluth and St. Scholastica.
“The fit obviously is really important to me, but at the same time, I want to push myself,” Guzzo said. “I watched Libby train in the offseason and saw her get better, and it made me realize that’s what I needed to do to reach another level. I know I still have a ways to go, but I just want to keep improving and make myself the best I can be.”
Silver Bay Area played at Superior on Thursday night. The Mariners feature three potent scorers in Guzzo, sophomore linemate Anna Carman (23-18–41) and second-line center Marina Carter (30-18–48).
Carman and Guzzo have flourished in their third season on the same line.
“We’re able to read each other better now,” Carman said. “We’re talking more and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Taylor is a leader. She knows how to take charge, that’s for sure.”
This winter’s Prep Newsmaker lineup has featured father-son and father-daughter combos with the Randolphs of Duluth East and Myhres of Barnum, and the question inevitably comes up with them as it does with Guzzo — how much longer does he plan on coaching after his youngest child graduates this spring.
“There is no reason I’d quit coaching just because Taylor is going to graduate. It’s in my blood,” said Mike Guzzo, 54. “People sometimes forget that I coached boys hockey for 23 years with no kids in the program. That’s what I do.”
That isn’t to say something won’t be remiss next year. Guzzo coached all his daughters in softball but just Taylor in hockey.
“All my girls were really competitive, but Taylor just has something a little extra. I don’t really know how to explain it. She just gets that look in her eye. She is probably even more competitive than me. She loves to win and hates to lose.”
Mike Guzzo said his daughter could be a pleasant surprise at the Division I level because she has never trained year round, but he isn’t swaying her one way or another.
The Guzzos, for the most part, do a good job of separating hockey from everyday life.
“Dad and I definitely have our times, but he understands all of us girls and just wants the best for us,” Taylor Guzzo said of her siblings. “He is very dedicated and puts in a lot of work, and it’s always nice to have coaches who care like that. We try not to bring it home as much, but it’s hard because we’re both very competitive and intense people.
“It never gets too crazy, but we get caught up in the moment sometimes. But at the end of the day, I know he’s still my No. 1 fan.”