Rookie Faceoff Notebook: Drew Talks Position Change

Rookie Faceoff Notebook: Drew Adjusts To Life Up Front, Jacob Talks Improvements

Sep 18, 2021

By AJ Manderichio/

Hunter Drew’s offseason training included a new focus – learning how to play forward.

Anaheim’s 2018 sixth-round selection primarily played on the blue line throughout his career but moved to the wing under former Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen last season. The flexibility allowed the Gulls to keep his physical presence in the lineup as the team carried several defensemen throughout the season.

Drew rose to the challenge, skating in a career-high 33 games while setting new personal records for goals, assists and points (6-6=12). 

Just over a month ago, Drew learned the position change was a permanent one, and changed his training to prepare for Rookie Camp.

“It's obviously different,” he said following today’s practice. “A lot more skating, but it's fun. You get to be in the offensive zone a lot more. You think the game a little bit differently; you talk a little bit to your linemates and you kind of feel the game in the different way. It gives you a different opportunity to produce offensively.”

Drew immediately cashed in on his increased opportunities, finding the back of the net in last night’s 8-4 win in the first game of the Arizona Rookie Faceoff. Jack Badini won an offensive zone faceoff, and Drew collected the loose puck in the circle. He skated through a mass of bodies and wired a hard wrist shot into the top of the net, scoring the fourth Ducks goal and giving his team a three-goal cushion.

The Kingston, Ontario native is one of the elder statesmen at Rookie Camp, a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly.

“It's been really fun,” Drew said. “I get to be a little bit more a leader, since I've been here for a while, so if I get to help these young guys in any way, obviously I'm going to try and do that and try and show these young guys it’s fun and to have some fun out there.”


It isn’t easy to bring together a new team and, within a week, create a cohesive unit ready for the competition of a rookie tournament.

Gulls assistant coach Daniel Jacob knows the challenge, and he’s proud of the way his team came together to start the tournament off strong.

“For me, we’re teaching them…trying to make them feel comfortable,” Jacob said following today’s practice. “They’re working on details, so we look good as a team. And that’s what they’ve done yesterday. You know we got some good looks, lots of shots, and we went to the inside. So, you know, looking for chemistry yes and no, but making sure that we do the right things at the right time.”

There’s a level of excitement and enthusiasm with this young squad of players pushing to make a good impression. Practice goals are met with cheers – even when coaches are explaining drills – and the pace is high. Jacob believes it’s the right mindset for a group trying to absorb copious amounts of information in a short period of time.

“It’s a lot for them, right,” he said. “A lot of information getting thrown at them, so we want to make sure, like I said before, that they feel comfortable. If they have questions, we’re always available. And it’s fun for them. It’s learning, every day it’s learning. You know, on ice, you know the caliber and making sure that they play fast. Off the ice how to take care of their bodies. Games are coming in fast; it’s going to be the same thing when they play in the NHL. So it’s good for them, it’s good to see it now. “

After scoring eight goals and playing an almost complete effort last night, Jacob wants to see his team replicate that same effort tomorrow against Colorado.

“We want to bring that same energy, right,” he explained. “Guys came out hard and they want to prove their point. So they want to be good individually, but we need to look good as a team and this is what we’ve done yesterday. We took strides in that direction and now we’re going to have a few changes. So we have to make sure we come out with the same mindset.”

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