Badger careers winding down

first_imgJAKE NAUGHTON/Herald photoIn their four years with the Wisconsin men’s hockey team,seniors Davis Drewiske, Josh Engel, Matthew Ford and Kyle Klubertanz have seenplenty of positives in their careers.All four saw extended time on the ice as freshmen, with eachplaying at least 18 games in the 2004-05 season. Through four years, three ofthe four have played over 100 career games (Engel has played in 94), and allwere members of the 2006 squad that won the NCAA Championship during theirsophomore season, which is easily the highlight of each of their respectivecareers.?That’s something special you’ll take with you wherever yougo,? Ford said of the national title. ?What you’ve learned from that team, theexperience and memories, you’ll never forget.?But there have been some things that have been slightlyharder to swallow.The season after winning it all in 2006, the Badgersfinished just 19-18-4 overall and missed the NCAA tournament. Classmate JoePavelski left the team to go to the NHL after winning the title. Fellowclassmate Joe Piskula did the same one year later.?Obviously you miss them; they’re good friends,? Drewiskesaid of his former teammates. ?It would be nice to have them around still, butyou’re still happy for them.?Although the two former Badgers have moved on to playprofessionally ? Pavelski with the San Jose Sharks, Piskula with the LosAngeles Kings ? they, and this year’s seniors, continue to keep in touch.?They’re still your buddies. You still talk to them here andthere,? Ford said. ?You always have that special relationship of being part ofthe National Championship team and being a part of Badger hockey.??I talk to Joe Pavelski probably once every two weeks,?Klubertanz said. ?I ask him a lot of questions, and I get a lot of informationfrom him. It’s been awesome, but it’s tough to lose him.?For two of the seniors, the next step has already been takenin reaching their ultimate goal of playing in the pros. Ford was drafted by theChicago Blackhawks in the eighth round of the 2004 NHL draft, while Klubertanzwas a third-round selection of the Anaheim Ducks.Both have adopted the ?wait?and-see? approach in regard towhere they will end up when their Wisconsin careers conclude.?It’s just one of those things you shoot for,? Klubertanzsaid. ?You never know. All you can really do is go out and play, and that’s allthat’s in your hands. … For the four seniors this year, we’ve all had prettygood seasons, so we’ve just got to wait and see.??I hope to have the opportunity to play hockey when I leavehere,? Ford said. ?It’s always been a dream to play college hockey ? which I’vegotten to ? but it’s also been a dream to play pro hockey.?The chance to play in the NHL isn’t as certain for Drewiskeand Engel, who remain undrafted. But they still hope to extend their hockeycareers past their days as Badgers.?I’d like to play. I think I could play somewhere,? Engelsaid. ?Hopefully, I’ll get a couple tryouts or a couple looks. I’d still liketo try to live on the dream.?None of the four are too quick to look to the future,however, as they realize their season here is far from over. The team finishesthe season ? the last regular season games for the seniors in their career ? onthe road against St. Cloud State this weekend.?Then they will have a week off before the WCHA playoffs begin, which, ifall goes according to plan, will be played at the Kohl Center for the firstround.Because of the work still left to be done, Klubertanz saidhe hasn’t had time to think about the end of his time with the team.?I don’t think any of this will sink in until the season’sactually done,? Klubertanz said. ?We’re still playing and don’t really worryabout that stuff too much.?Drewiske also knows the road to the NCAA playoffs will notbe an easy one. The team must finish among the top 16 in the nation to qualifyfor that postseason tournament.?We still have a couple of big challenges ahead of us,?Drewiske said. ?We need to take care of business this weekend to set us up forthe playoffs.?If not for the leadership of these four seniors, the youngBadger team may never had a shot at the tournament this season. Wisconsin’sroster boasted nine freshmen to start the season, but the newcomers haveimproved dramatically, according to Drewiske and Klubertanz.?The young guys have done a nice job coming along and havereally matured,? Drewiske said.?We knew that we had a lot of young guys coming in,?Klubertanz added. ?It was key for us to be guys to be looked up upon. I thinkfor the most part, us four have done a great job. We like to take pride indoing that.?Ford credits Drewiske ? this year’s team captain ? withstepping up and answering the challenge that comes along with wearing a ?C? onhis jersey.?All four of us, but Davis especially, got guys up to speedright away,? Ford said. ?With so many young guys, everybody’s gotten [anopportunity] to play.?Engel and the other seniors have been in the skates of thefreshmen before. They all still remember the first time they stepped onto theKohl Center ice.Which is why the end will be that much harder for them.?I remember being a freshman and looking at the seniorslike, ‘Wow, that’s a long ways away,’? Engel said. ?But it definitely flew byreally, really fast.?last_img read more

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