Los Angeles Kings forward Trevor Lewis will be blogging for NHL.com throughout the Stanley Cup Final, offering his insight on what is happening inside the walls of his team's locker room and within the confines of the rink.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, and so I guess I had what might be considered a non-traditional path to the NHL.
My dad and his family were Canadian and he played hockey growing up. We also lived across the street from an ice rink in Salt Lake City, so when I was 2 years old, he took me over and I started learning to skate.
I just loved it. I played every sport growing up, but it always seemed like hockey was my favorite. I always seemed to gravitate toward hockey.
We played in a travel league, but there were a few years where we only had about 12 guys on the team. We would travel all over, to Arizona and California and Las Vegas and Wyoming -- places like that.
It put a lot of miles on the cars for the parents. A lot of times we could only get on the ice at like 5 a.m., so it was great for our parents to really put that dedication in for us.
Growing up there wasn't a lot of hockey around in Utah, but once the Olympics came [in 2002], it started to grow a little bit more.
I was 15 years old when the Olympics were in Utah. I went to about four or five hockey games at the Olympics, whether they were exhibition games or real games. It was awesome. That was kind of the time that I was like, 'I want to do this. I want to play hockey.' That was a great experience for me. It really made me know I wanted to take the step to the next level.
We played a lot of teams from Colorado when I was younger. Two of my friends who were a year older than me went over to Colorado Springs and played a year there. They ended up loving it, so the next year I went and tried out for the team.
I ended up making the team, the Pikes Peak Miners, and living with a billet family there. I played there for two years, and it ended up being one of the best decisions I've ever made.
We played a lot of bigger tournaments when I lived in Colorado, and I was drafted in the United States Hockey League by Cedar Rapids. I ended up getting released from their camp, so I went down to Texarkana, Texas, to play in the North American Hockey League.
I had gone to Texas to start school, but the season wasn't supposed to start for a couple of weeks when I got a call from Des Moines in the USHL. I had just got settled in down there, but I got that call and packed up my stuff and took off for Iowa.
Des Moines was awesome. My first year we weren't very good, but in my second year we got Kyle Okposo and we ended up winning the league.
It was a lot of fun. It was the first time in my hockey career that I really took everything seriously on and off the ice. I had a great billet mom, Barb Stewart, while there. She was the best ever. She had every meal for us, a great ping-pong table. It was a great experience.
I was actually planning on going to Michigan and I had committed to play college hockey there. I was drafted by Los Angeles and after I talked to the Kings, we decided it would be better for my development to go to Owen Sound and play more of a pro-type schedule and get used to more of a pro-type atmosphere.
I had a great year with Owen Sound, but we lost in the first round of the playoffs, so I went to Manchester and finished up the season with the Monarchs and turned pro after that.
My first NHL game was in Buffalo, and we ended up losing like 5-0. It was a tough first one, but my favorite team growing up was the Detroit Red Wings and we played there two nights later. I ended up scoring my first NHL goal in Joe Louis Arena, so that was really a cool moment for me.
It was a long road to the NHL. When I go back to Utah now in the summers, it is unbelievable how much it has changed and how much hockey has grown there. There are so many more ice rinks now and better quality of training for kids and all of that kind of stuff.
It is great to see, and I hope that we can have a lot more kids from Utah make it to the NHL.