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Keep up the good work: Former Raider Drewiske thanks coaches

Former Hudson three-sport standout Davis Drewiske, second from right, is reunited with his old Raider coaches Mike Stoskopf, left, Gerry Uchytil, second from left, and Craig Jilek, right, at an appreciation dinner for middle school and high school coaches at the Hudson Golf Club last Wednesday evening. Drewiske, who made his professional debut with the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League in April, was the featured speaker at the dinner. Photo by Bob Burrows

Davis Drewiske, the former Hudson multi-sport standout who overcame a broken neck to win a national championship with the University of Wisconsin hockey team and play professional hockey with the Los Angeles Kings, had a simple message for the middle school and high school coaches at the Hudson Golf Club last Wednesday.

"I came here to say thank you," he said. "I had a lot of great coaches here."

Drewiske returned to Hudson to speak to the coaches and their families at an end-of-the year spaghetti dinner hosted by first-year athletic director Stephanie DeVos. DeVos said the dinner was a way to thank the coaches for all their hard work and look forward to the future.

Drewiske, who played in 17 games for the Kings this season after making his NHL debut on Feb. 2, was the featured speaker at the event and used the opportunity to urge the coaches to appreciate the role they play in shaping young peoples' lives.

"The impact you can have on kids' lives is amazing," he told them. "I hope you can continue to do that. I can tell you firsthand, there are a lot of people in this room who had an impact, and continue to have an impact, on me."

Drewiske, a 2003 graduate of Hudson High School, earned multiple all-conference honors in football, hockey and baseball and all-state honors in hockey and baseball during his high school career. He was a member of the Raiders' 2001 WIAA State Championship hockey team and was named Wisconsin's Mr. Hockey in 2003.

His athletic career was nearly derailed when he suffered a broken neck his junior year while playing for the Raider hockey team in the championship game of the Duluth Holiday Tournament. He spent several days in intensive care, and after painful spinal fusion surgery, wore a halo brace for five months.

After 10 months of physical therapy, Drewiske rejoined the Raider football team halfway through his senior season. He went on to play hockey and baseball, picking up Wisconsin's Mr. Hockey award over the winter and earning all-conference honors in baseball that spring.

He was team captain of the Raider football and hockey teams as a junior and senior and captain of the baseball team as a senior.

After high school he played a year of junior hockey with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League, where he led the team in scoring by a defenseman.

He went to play four years at the University of Wisconsin, where he was a member of the Badgers' 2005-06 national championship team and team captain as a senior in 2007-08.

On April 1, 2008, Drewiske signed a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Kings and was assigned to the Kings' affiliate, the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the American Hockey League. He started the 2008-09 season with the Monarchs before receiving his call to the NHL on Feb. 2 of this year. He made his debut with the Kings in a 1-0 win against the Ottawa Senators the next day and appeared in 17 games, recording two assists in a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks in the Kings' season finale April 11.

Drewiske described his call-up to the Kings as a whirlwind, and said he's embracing the opportunity to play professional hockey.

"It's nice to play in L.A.," he said. "We have a young team and it's a good time to be part of the organization. And it really is a great sports town. I'm seeing that more and more as we continue to win."

He said the biggest difference between college and pro hockey is consistency.

"You have to be able to do it every day, every time," he said.

Drewiske said he learned many valuable lessons from his former coaches, and credited them with helping him come back from a serious injury to play in the NHL. He urged them to continue to be positive influences in kids' lives.

"Focus on the process, and if you do that, good things will happen," he said. "I hope you can continue to take that responsibility seriously, because I can speak firsthand about the impact you can have."

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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