Monday, August 18, 2008

Recruit Recap: Chase Drake

This summer I plan to do a recap of every current committed recruit. While I have been slacking on this so far this summer, I still plan to try to get every recruit done in the next few months (or so). The first recruit that we profiled was forward Tyler Barnes from Burnsville. We've also covered goaltender Aaron Crandall who is from Lakeville, MN and played for Green Bay last season. (He got traded to Des Monies in the off-season) The most recent profile was forward Jefferson Dahl, 2008 Wisconsin Mr. Hockey award winner from state champion Eau Claire Memorial who will play for Green Bay next season. Today we preview Chase Drake from Mosinee, Wisconsin who will be a teammate of Dahl's in Green Bay for the upcoming 2008-2009 season.

Name: Chase Drake
Position: Defense
2008 Team: Mosinee High School (WI)
2009 Team: Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
Commit date: 5/8/2008
Season entering Wisconsin: 2010
Height/Weight/Birth year: 6'2/170/1989

Last Seasons Stats

Games: 23
Goals: 12
Assists: 18
Points: 30

Chase Drake is an interesting prospect for Wisconsin for because playing in Mosinee, not many people have gotten to see him play and he hasn't had a ton of publicity. But don't let that fool you, he very much deserves to be a Badger. The best part about it for Wisconsin, is that he will get 2 full solid seasons with Green Bay in the USHL before entering Wisconsin.

Drake had an outstanding prep career with Mosinee. In his senior season he turned Mosinee into a State Tournament qualifier for the first time since 1992, and earned himself a nomination for the Wisconsin Mr. Hockey award. (Won by fellow Badger recruit Jefferson Dahl from Eau Claire Memorial) Mosinee went 19-4 and had a perfect 12-0 conference record en route to the Lumberjack title.

As a player, Chase is definitely looking for the best way to get the puck to the net whenever it's in his teams possession. He gave this self description of the way he plays in an interview I did with him in May when he committed. "
Some of my strengths are my puck handling ability, my vision on the ice, my shot, and my mobility on the ice. I try to be a smart player on the ice and I try to help out my team whenever possible." In the only game I've personally ever seen him play, (State Tournament 2008 quarterfinal game) he was magnificent. While Mosinee lost the game, he was clearly head and shoulders above the competition. Mosinee got down big at one point but Drake helped lead a charge to get them close and actually almost scored from the face off circles on the far end of the ice when he sent a laser towards the net at the buzzer in a last ditch effort to save his team.

As I said earlier, the best thing for Wisconsin, is that Drake gets to spend 2 seasons in Green Bay learning the ropes of playing at a higher level. He will also get to spend 2 seasons with fellow recruit Jefferson Dahl who will also be entering in 2010. (Both could come sooner with early departures) Drake needs to focus on the defensive side of his game while he's in Green Bay more then anything. No one is more critical of Drake then himself. In the interview I linked above, he had this to say about things he needs to work on, "I'm a little undersized (weight wise), so that’s a big thing I'm looking forward to work on in Green Bay. Another thing is one on one situations in the D-zone since we run a man to man D-zone. I also need to work a little more on my gap control because at times I respect players too much (especially in the USHL) and I tend to give them more room which is the worst thing a D can do since their job is to take away time and space."

Drake got a preview of the USHL at the end of last season when he played 10 games with the Green Bay Gamblers. In an article about his commitment, Drake had this to say to Capital Times reporter Todd Milewski, "It was definitely a major step up from high school right to the USHL," he said. "I went and watched a game, and it didn't look like it would be too big of a step, but once you get on the ice with those guys, the speed and the strength is just so much more superior than high school. It was difficult, but it was a good challenge for me and I had a good time trying to keep up with the challenge."

Drake also got some great experience playing in the Midwest Elite High School League with Team Wisconsin last fall. So far that team has had 5 players off the roster commit to D-1 programs already. (Jeff Costello (committed to Notre Dame), Seth Soley (committed to Michigan Tech), Ted Behrend (committed to Colorado College), and Nate Condon (committed to Minnesota)) Here is what Chase had to say about the experience of playing with and against such great competition, "I had a great experience playing that team and it really helped me come into the high school season at my highest performing peak which was nice for me because I didn't have to work as hard at my fundamentals so I could concentrate more on little things that I was doing wrong, which I thought helped me throughout the year. But playing with those guys were great. We all had great team chemistry and we came together and played great against some of the best teams and players in the nation which made it exciting every weekend."

For a while it looked like there was a very good chance Drake would be drafted in the 2008 NHL Draft. In the final rankings by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, he was ranked as the 136th best North American prospect. Adding in the Europeans, it meant that he was going to be on the bubble of being drafted. As it turns out, he didn't go in the draft but it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for him. This Wausau Daily Herald article has some good quotes from Drake on his attitude post draft. "I am pretty disappointed," Drake said, "but it will happen next year. It's also a positive thing. Next year, I can get bigger and get higher up on the draft board and go high." It sounds like he has the right attitude about the situation and will only use it as fuel to get that much better in the off season.

I can't wait until Drake is ready to be a Badger and 'don the Cardinal and White threads. I have little doubt with 2 seasons in the USHL with Green Bay that he should be more then ready to step into the Wisconsin lineup and have an immediate impact offensively and defensively. People are starting to realize that with the changing game, puck moving defensemen are becoming very, very valuable and thats exactly what Drake is. Wisconsin is in good hands.

Tyler Barnes recap

Aaron Crandall recap
Jefferson Dahl recap