Here's the full interview with Jacob Drewiske that contributed to the story below it, which appeared in today's issue of the Watertown Daily Times.
CANTON — St. Lawrence co-captain Jacob Drewiske speaks slowly and with purpose. He pauses before each new thought, yet his audience remains captivated.
He's spent four years at the only university willing to take a chance on the kid from Hudson, Wis. He is more aware than anyone that when St. Lawrence's season ends, so, too, will his college career.
“When you're an upperclassman you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel diminish because your time is coming to an end,” he said. “My number one goal is to give it everything I've got for the guys in that locker room and the coaches behind the bench and really hope that when I look back five years from now, I can say that I tried to do everything I could for this team.”
Drewiske was an assistant captain with senior Sean Flanagan last year. Seniors Jared Keller and Aaron Bogosian were the team captains. At one point, everyone but Drewiske was out with injuries. Keller missed 18 games, and Flanagan and Bogosian each missed five.
“When you have leaders that get hurt and you're one of the only guys with a letter on your chest, you kind of have to take on more responsibility whether you want to or not,” Drewiske said. “It's given to you. To me, it started last year with injuries.”
The team voted Drewiske a captain along with Kyle Flanagan for this year. George Hughes was elected as an assistant captain.
None could have anticipated the challenges SLU would face this season and the importance of their roles.
Almost immediately upon returning to St. Lawrence, head coach Joe Marsh announced his indefinite medical leave and that associate head coach Mike Hurlbut and assistant Greg Carvel would run the team.
Then, of course, there were the losing streaks: two stretches of five games and another of four. During that time Drewiske, Flanagan and Hughes took it upon themselves to keep the team and individuals focused.
“This time of year, every guy likes to have their spot solidified, but that's not the case,” Flanagan said. “Guys that are in and out we want to make sure stay on the same page and are on board.”
In addition to player-only meetings, they met individually with players whom they felt needed encouragement or just someone to listen.
“It's a long, tough season and not only is it physically taxing, but it's mentally taxing as well,” Drewiske said. “Sometimes when a guy needs a little pick me up here and there, Kyle and I and George will take a guy aside and just talk to him.
“It doesn't necessarily have to be anything about hockey. It can be about life if something is getting them down,” he added. “Usually it results in better play on the ice. We want every guy in the locker room to know we care about them and they can always talk to us about anything.”
St. Lawrence is playing its best hockey of the season, winning five of its last six games, and is positioned for a home playoff series. Morale and confidence are high now that the players have experienced how well the new systems Carvel introduced can work.
It's possible that SLU would have never made this much progress if not for the efforts of Drewiske, Flanagan and Hughes. At the lowest points, like when SLU was shut out in consecutive games, the captains helped keep the team focused, and the Saints went on to win five in a row.
Drewiske, though, doesn't want any of the credit even if he's done more than anyone expected of a captain.
“I'm not by any means saying it's been a one-man show at all,” he said. “Everybody helps everybody do their job the best way possible to help our team win.”