Drew Czerwonka, playoff beard and all in Medicine Hat Alberta for the 2011 WHL Eastern Conference Finals.
In the 2010 NHL entry draft, the Edmonton Oilers selected more than just Taylor and Tyler (Taylor Hall and Tyler Pitlick), they had several other picks. With their sixth round selection, 166th overall, the Oilers selected LW Drew Czerwonka. Czerwonka hails from Wolseley Saskatchewan and is currently playing with the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook British Columbia. The Ice finished 4th in the Eastern Conference for the 2011 regular season. In the first round of playoffs, the Ice beat the Moose Jaw Warriors in six games, then swept the Saskatoon Blades in the second round. The Kootenay Ice have swept a playoff series now five times in their franchise history.
Czerwonka is listed as 6'2" and 194lbs. During the regular season Czerwonka played 68 games, scored 13 goals and 30 assists. He had 78 penalty minutes and finished as a plus player with 9. Through the playoffs to this point, Czerwonka has 1 goal, 2 assists and 4 penalty minutes. Czerwonka scored in the first period of the first game between the Kootenay Ice and the Medicine Hat Tigers, and took a penalty in each of the second and third periods.
Copper & Blue: I noticed on your twitter account (@cwonks19) that you are the best Call of Duty Player on the Kootenay ice
Drew Czerwonka: Ya, I'm probably not the best, but I'm up there. There are probably 12 of us that play so it's pretty hard to make the top five.
Copper & Blue: Do you guys have tournaments?
Drew Czerwonka: No, we actually, well some nights. Usually we just play against other guys, six of us. Then we see how we do. Usually we do pretty good.
Copper & Blue: You had six fights during the regular season, how do you feel about fighting in hockey?
Drew Czerwonka: I don't know, it's the way I play the game. It comes with the territory. Sometimes it's going to happen. I guess it's only happened six times this year, I had 10 my first and 11 last year.
Copper & Blue: I had noticed that your fighting had fallen down a little.
Drew Czerwonka: Ya, I put up better numbers this year though, so I'm OK with that. I could have had a few more.
Copper & Blue: Oh? Did you settle things a little more amicably on the ice?
Drew Czerwonka: No, I still play with an edge. I guess fight's didn't come to me this year, but...
Copper & Blue: Fair enough, can you tell me anything about the injury that caused you to miss 5 games from the first and second rounds of the playoffs?
Drew Czerwonka: Just a little stinger. I just wanted to get it healed for the final rounds, but it was just a little stinger.
Copper & Blue: How it is possible for the same guy to score 16 goals and 2 assists in one season, two years ago, and 14 goals and 29 assists this year?
Drew Czerwonka: I don't know. My second year I didn't have as many goals. I got closer to the 16 goal mark, I've played with some great goals in [Max] Reinhart and [Matt] Fraser over the year. They helped me along the way. They are two guys that I learned a lot from. They gave me the puck and I just happened to bury it 14 times.
Copper & Blue: I did notice that in the year between you were 4-9 and 13. Were you surprised you were drafted?
Drew Czerwonka: Ya, I didn't think that I was going to get drafted. I was kind of just sitting on the couch, wasn't expecting anything. The Oilers gave me an opportunity here and I'm trying to show them what I can do.
Copper & Blue: Speaking of the Oilers, have they been giving you feedback?
Drew Czerwonka: I talk lots to the player development guys. They've been really good with us, they're happy with what I've done so far but we've got a lot of work to do in the playoffs. Hopefully we can keep it going.
Copper & Blue: How do you see your development going, what is your next step?
Drew Czerwonka: I don't know, I guess just see how the playoffs go. I've got a lot of work to do in the summer; I've got to get a lot stronger. I noticed at camp that those guys are really strong and play really hard. So, I've got to my stamina up and my weight strength up.
Copper & Blue: Any comments on the game tonight?
Drew Czerwonka: Huge win, hopefully we can keep it going. Nice shot by [Cody] Eakin.
Copper & Blue: Thanks Drew, good luck with the rest of the series.
Drew Czerwonka: Alright thanks.
Czerwonka is still young at 18 and is working on his development. He attended the Oilers' prospect camp at the Clareview arena in north east Edmonton last July, but strangely enough was outshone by the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi. Czerwonka does not have intentions to further his education at this point, and is focussing on his hockey career and development. No matter what, I'm sure he'll keep his million dollar smile that seems to stretch farther than ear to ear. I wish I could blame my mind for its uncharacteristic blanking on his smile. For whatever reason I thought of plenty more questions I would have liked to ask this Oilers' prospect. Instead, I'll have to wait for next year.