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08-21-2008, 05:44 AM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Drew going to the E
From the UPEI website.
August 20, 2008
Paul Drew is the latest UPEI Panther graduate to jump to the ranks of professional hockey.
The 24-year-old goaltender, who concluded his four-year university career in February, has signed a one-year contract with the Dayton Bombers of the East Coast Hockey League.
Drew said he's happy to wind up in the ECHL, which is one step below the American Hockey League, especially because he wasn't sure if he would land anywhere.
“I was close to signing with Amarillo (of the lower-tier Central Hockey League) because I didn't think any ECHL teams were interested. I just had to be patient. At first, I didn't even think I'd sign (anywhere), so I jumped at the first opportunity.
“But once other teams got interested, I had to tell Amarillo the bad news, which was one of the hardest things I've had to do. But the ECHL is where I wanted to be. I can always go back to the Central if I need to, but I wanted to try the East Coast.”
Panthers head coach Dylan Taylor said he knew all along that Drew would sign somewhere.
“Paul has the talent and the track record, it was just a matter of gaining some exposure for him. I knew there would be a variety of teams that would be interested, we just had to put time into it, get the word out.”
Drew is the third Panther to sign a pro contract this summer. Forward Stephen Cooke joined the CHL's Rapid City Rush, based in South Dakota, while forward Jeff MacDermid has signed with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL.
Drew said his decision to join Dayton was based on two factors.
“The number one reason was because it's not too far from where my parents live (in Merlin, Ontario). They're only an hour from Detroit, and Detroit's only three hours from Dayton.”
The second reason Drew offered is a little more complex. He feels that because the Bombers do not have an NHL parent club, he is less likely to be bumped down the depth chart by players who are NHL property.
“It's an unaffiliated team, so there's less politics. I'm not drafted, and affiliated teams are always trying to bring in their own guys that are drafted. (Dayton) still gets callups to the AHL if it's easier for (an AHL squad) to call me up than a guy that's further away.
“At first, when I heard that they weren't affiliated, I (wasn't excited), but when Dayton explained to me that they've had half their team called up to the A, it's because their location is so convenient.”
According to Drew, it was a connection from long ago, when he was playing for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, that got the Bombers interested in him.
“One of their owners (team president Costa Papista) was involved with the (OHL's) Saginaw Spirit and that's part of how they found me, playing against them.”
Drew expects the jump to pro hockey to have its pros and cons.
“It'll be a big adjustment because you test out your body a little more. You have 72 games a season, and you only play 28 (in university). Even if you play the full schedule, you're only travelling four hours in the AUS, whereas in the Coast, you're flying all over the U.S. and Canada. It'll be a big adjustment travel-wise and with game play.
“But you don't have the stresses of school. You have a chance to totally focus on hockey instead of on the books. You practice every single day and your preparation is a lot better.”
Taylor believes the netminder and all of this year’s graduates will be uniquely missed at UPEI.
“Paul is a veteran player who had a strong career. Paul has left a nice legacy for himself. He used the program to develop, further his education and provide himself security for his future while developing his game and gaining the opportunity to move on to professional opportunities in the hockey world. We are very happy for all our graduates and we know they will represent UPEI and our hockey program well.”
By Josh Lewis
Mea Culpa - Meant to post on the AUS Schedule page.
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