Trevor Lewis’s hockey career was nearly finished before it began.
And still, despite the adversity and long-shot odds, Lewis used hard work to propel himself to realize his dream of playing professional hockey.
Drafted by Cedar Rapids in the 2004 United States Hockey League Draft, the Salt Lake City native didn’t make it to the regular season, as the team cut him during preseason tryouts.
“I had never been cut from a team before so it definitely hurt,” Lewis said. “But I think it helped me in the long run.”
He would eventually catch on with the Des Moines Buccaneers for the 2004-05 season and finished eighth on the team with 22 points. Following the season, motivated by the snub, Lewis hit the gym harder than he ever had before.
The rewards were immediate. In 2005-06, he posted 35 goals, 40 assists, was named the USHL Player and Forward of the Year and presented himself as a legitimate NHL prospect.
Teams took notice, and the Los Angeles Kings selected him with the 17th overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
“[The Kings] were my dad’s favorite team growing up, with [Wayne] Gretzky [playing there],” he said. “I remember at the draft, LA made the trade to move up and my dad leaned over and said, ‘this is going to be you.’”
Growing up in Salt Lake City, Lewis loved hockey as a kid, but the only professional team in town was the Utah Grizzlies of the now-defunct International Hockey League. The sport had yet to take off, and his youth team only had 12 players.
Then the 2002 Olympic Winter Games came to town, and Lewis got an up-close view at the best hockey players in the world. That was when his hockey dreams began to take wings.
It’s been 11 years since the Olympics came to Salt Lake, but Lewis has a chance to bring things full-circle half way around the world in Sochi, Russia. He was one of 48 players who attended the U.S. Olympic Orientation Camp in Washington, D.C., in August.
“It was good to see some familiar faces that I played with at World Juniors and to meet all the guys,” he said. “Just being there was a huge honor.”
Even though he may not be a household name to all but hardcore hockey fans, he’s a guy who could find a role on the team.
He describes himself as a versatile, responsible player who is comfortable playing on either wing or at center. Additionally, playing on the larger ice surface, his tremendous speed – he finished second in the fastest skater contest at the 2006 USHL All Star Game – would be a huge asset.
He has also experienced winning, hoisting the Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2012, a moment that is “something I’ll never forget.
“My shoulder was hurting pretty bad, but I couldn’t even feel it,” he said. “Lifting the Cup was such a great experience.”
Lewis is also motivated, which should bode well for the Kings this season. Not only is he battling for a spot on the U.S. Olympic roster, he’s also battling for his future as an unrestricted free agent following the season.
He loves playing in front of the fans in Los Angeles and wants to remain a King for the rest of his NHL career. And, in typical Trevor Lewis fashion, he’s using his drive to win to push himself.
“We have such a great team here, great chemistry. So yeah, there’s definitely a little extra motivation,” Lewis said. “And after last year making it to the conference finals and losing, that’s always in the back of your head. You want to go out and win the Cup again.”
Like many 13-year-olds, Henry Pardo thinks hockey is cool. And why not, he’s been playing it since he was 6. These days he plays right wing with the Redhawks, a Butler County team that plays out of the Goggin Ice Center in Oxford, Ohio.
And while Henry doesn’t play sled hockey, he has always had a particular fascination for the sport.
So as he prepared for his Bar Mitzvah, Henry chose as his social action project to educate his friends and family about the sport. More than that, Henry was committed to not only raise awareness, but also money to help the Cincinnati IceBreakers, a local sled hockey program.
Henry created special cards that explained the game and inserted them into his Bar Mitzvah invitations. He added that most sled hockey programs are supported by donations and sponsorships to pay for ice time, which is “costly.”
“So, to keep this wonderful sport going and to give people with disabilities a chance to play a sport that will drive them to excel in hockey with as much passion as I have, I want you to be aware of the Cincinnati IceBreakers,” he wrote.
Thanks to Henry’s thoughtfulness on his special day, he raised more than $8,000 for the IceBreakers.