By Davis Drewiske
My story begins at age 4 in Hudson, Wisconsin...
My dad was out of town on business and my mom took me and my brother, who was four, to sign us up for hockey while he was gone. My dad was a wrestler, and all of his brothers were wrestlers, and my mom had four brothers too, and they were all wrestlers. I think she was tired of having wrestlers in the family so she wanted to change it up a little bit and I’ve played hockey ever since.
I have always played defense for the most part. I think maybe one year in pee wee I played forward, but I was always just kind of attracted to that part of the game. I think you can control the game a lot from back there and I always was interested in playing that the most.
Back then I think I was always just kind of a rink rat. I always liked to play. We played outside a lot growing up. We had three outdoor rinks in our neighborhood and we just played all the time, whether it was with skates or just in your snow boots playing boot hockey. We played all the time including pick-up games. I didn’t spend a lot of time at camps or hockey schools growing up. It was more just kind of on our own, like on the outdoor rinks or at the arena when we could get in late at night. It was also something to keep us busy and keep us out of trouble.
|Davis Drewiske played four years of college hockey at the University of Wisconsin. |
Some of my earliest memories of the NHL actually relate to the Kings. My family didn’t really grow up with hockey, it wasn’t a big hockey family so to speak, as we were into baseball and football and other sports. But I think I really started to get into hockey when Gretzky was traded to the Kings. I didn’t get to see him a lot but that was, you know, when I first really remember starting to get into hockey as much as the other sports.
I also have memories of the North Stars. Hudson is sort of in that Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area so we always would watch the North Stars growing up. We were pretty crushed when they left to go to Dallas. I remember Mark Tinordi was always my favorite player for the North Stars. He was a big defenseman. I was also lucky to have the Talafous family in town. Dean Talafous played for the North Stars and for the Rangers and had a pretty good NHL career and I’m pretty good friends with his son. We grew up kind of playing together.
I was pretty lucky growing up in that area just outside of the Twin Cities. There are a lot of really good local hockey associations. I didn’t have to go and play Triple-A hockey and travel all over the place to find good competition. We had it within 45 minutes or an hour. A lot of other guys that I know had to pick between hockey and their other sports growing up because if they wanted to play hockey and get into good competition they had to play on Triple-A teams and travel all over the country nine months a year. But I think I was lucky because I could stay relatively close to home and face good competition. I could also still play football and baseball during those seasons.
|Drewiske signed with the Kings the day after his collegiate career ended. "It was a tremendous moment for me," he said. |
I was lucky enough to go on and play college hockey at Wisconsin and they have a great coaching staff there. I learned a lot. I was focused on just playing and being a contributor and being a key player on our team there, and I kind of figured if I could do that then everything would take care of itself and I would have an opportunity to play at the next level. By my junior and senior year I started to think, ‘Hey, this might be an option for me after I’m done.’
Back then I really liked to play football and baseball too so I kind of was having a hard time deciding between which sport was going to be the one I would focus on. But I had a serious back/neck injury my junior year so that kind of narrowed things down for me. I missed my whole junior year of baseball and I missed a good chunk of my senior year for football, but I could play my whole senior year of hockey and was starting to get healthy again. By the end of my senior year it sort of looked like hockey would be the best route and it was kind of my first love, I guess you could say, so I was fine with that.
I was not drafted by an NHL team and really I wasn’t devastated by that. I knew I was going to go the college route and I knew that gave me some more time. Maybe I’m a little bit of a late bloomer and I developed a little bit later. I think that not being drafted was good as I had a little more of a choice of where I wanted to go, to see where I might fit the best.
So I actually feel I benefitted by not getting drafted. I didn’t have really any distractions; I didn’t have anything else to think about. I was just kind of worried about getting better and trying to help our team win in college and then, you know, like I said, I thought if I could do those things then I would probably have a good chance to play.
When I signed with the Kings, it was a tremendous moment for me. I signed the contract the day after we lost in the NCAA tournament my senior year, and then from there I left two days later and I was in Manchester, where I played a few regular season games with the Monarchs.
We then played in the first round of the playoffs and I thought that was a great experience for me to get my feet wet and find out what it was all about. I kind of carried that over in to our offseason and from our development work with Mike O’Connell, Mike Donnelly, Nelson Emerson and those guys, it was awesome to work on the game and to work on the little things that can make a big difference.
That helped prepare me for my first training camp and I felt good going into that. I stuck around till almost the end of camp there and then went back down to Manchester. That was kind of an adjustment, a little bit of a let-down. It was almost harder than you expect. It’s not an easy league to play in. It’s still one of the best leagues in the world and you’re playing a lot of games, but you’re playing four games in five nights sometimes. It took me maybe a month or two to adjust to that. Then I started playing really well. I was called up in early February by the Kings.