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Stanley Cup comes to Hudson on Monday

Hudson native Davis Drewiske raised Lord Stanley's Cup on June 11 after his Los Angeles Kings team defeated the New Jersey Devils for the National Hockey League championship.

The public will get a chance to welcome former Raider and University of Wisconsin star Davis Drewiske of the Los Angeles Kings and the Stanley Cup to Hudson this Monday, Aug. 27, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Hudson Civic Center.

Attendees will be able to pose for one picture with the Stanley Cup, which will arrive sometime between those hours.

Scheduled speakers include Hudson Mayor Alan Burchill, former Raider varsity coach Mike Stoskopf, current coach and Drewiske's former Hudson teammate Brooks Lockwood, and Drewiske himself.

Food and drink will be available for purchase, and attendees are asked to bring nonperishable food items for the local food shelf.

Hockey association's cup runneth over

From outdoor ice to two indoor rinks, HHA has come a long way

When a group of volunteers got together to organize the inaugural season of the Hudson Hockey Association over 30 years ago, they could only dream about one of its players someday bringing home the Stanley Cup.

Monday, Aug. 27, that dream will come true when Hudson native Davis Drewiske of the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings will carry the most cherished trophy in hockey into the Hudson Civic Center.

Drewiske's path to success is a testament to the hard work and dedication thousands of HHA volunteers have put in over the years. What began in 1972 with 75 youngsters skating on an outdoor sheet of ice at Burton Field has grown into over 500 boys and girls on over 30 teams developing their skills in the only non-profit hockey association in the state with two indoor rinks.

"It's a pretty amazing group," Drewiske's dad, Dave said. "We've experienced some great things, and we never would have had that chance without the Hudson Hockey Association."

Dave Drewiske, who grew up in Ellsworth, and his wife, Karen, a Stratford native, knew very little about hockey when they moved to Hudson in 1985. But it didn't take them long to recognize a good thing when they saw it.

"We were both from wrestling towns," David said. "But when we moved here I told Karen, that's the kind of organization I want my kids to be a part of."

The Hudson Hockey Association was already well-established by the time the Drewiskes arrived. By 1980 kids were practicing and playing under a Teflon-coated bubble near the softball fields on the hill overlooking Interstate 94.

The original boards inside the "bubble" were purchased from the New York Rangers, one of the original six National Hockey League teams, leading the association to choose the Rangers' red, white and blue as its official team colors.

In 1986, HHA membership, which included 160 youth, and the community came together to build the community's first ice arena. Known as the Hudson Sports and Civic Center, the arena was later named after former HHA president John Gornick.

"I think it took four tries to get it going," Dave Drewiske said about the effort to build the facility.

By 2007, HHA had grown to be the largest youth hockey association in the state of Wisconsin, with between 475 and 500 players and 75 volunteer coaches. HHA leadership, combined with the efforts of its membership and the community, banded together to construct a second sheet of ice adjacent to Gornick Arena -- Raider Arena.

With the second sheet of ice came former University of Minnesota and NHL star Dean Talafous' Total Hockey Training -- a 6,000 square foot, world-class facility that attracts players from other hockey associations within a 60-mile radius.

The vision and commitment of HHA members and the community has led to a tradition of hockey in Hudson that includes five boys and girls state high school championships since 2001 and over 20 players moving on to play major college or professional hockey.

Drewiske said the sustained success of the association is directly tied to its volunteers. HHA has just one full-time employee -- arena manager Mike Brooks.

"Everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets it done," Drewiske said. "In this building (Gornick Arena), all but the steel work was done by volunteers. We spread the work load out and give work to the people capable of handling it; everything from plumbers to carpenters to fundraising; everyone pitches in. That's one way we keep costs down, because of all the volunteers."

Much of the work this summer replacing the nearly 30 year-old floor and refrigeration system in Gornick Arena was done by volunteers. HHA receives a minimum of 20 volunteer hours per season from each of its 300 families, while some give "hundreds of hours," Drewiske said.

"The volunteers are always reloading. We don't have to reinvent the wheel, we know what needs to be done, and people are doing this for the right reasons."

Those reasons include establishing the first girls' program in the state, and giving every kid who wants to play hockey an equal chance, thanks in large part to the construction of Raider Arena.

"Our kids get a lot of ice time" Drewiske said. "We don't have to have kids starting at 5 a.m. and going until 11 at night. And one of the real benefits is that everybody plays. We find a place for them. Nobody gets cut."

Drewiske said he and Karen are thrilled their sons Davis and Jake, who played collegiately at St. Lawrence University and professionally in the East Coast Hockey League, decided to give hockey a try when the family first moved to Hudson.

"They tried it, they liked it, and it became their favorite sport,' he said. "And it gave us an opportunity to become involved with the hockey association. You don't really feel like you're part of the community until you've been part of something like this."

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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