Dogs’ rookie trio veterans of success

first_img The threesome spent the past four seasons together at the University of Denver, where they helped lead the Pioneers to back-to-back NCAA championships the last two years. Now, they are in Long Beach, looking for a spot on the opening-night roster and, if things work out just right, possibly another title. While many people feel that three’s a crowd, Ice Dogs rookies Jeff Drummond, Jonathan Foster and Kevin Ulanski think that three is something else, like a charm. Call them the “Three Amigos,” the “Three Musketeers,” or as some teammates have dubbed the trio, “Denver,” they don’t seem to care. They are just happy to be in Long Beach going through training camp with the hopes of playing together for yet another season. “It’s not like we planned it,” said Ulanski, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound winger who tallied 33 goals and 77 assists in 149 career games with Denver. The “D-ers’ weren’t recruited as one by Ice Dogs coach Malcolm Cameron, who also tried to land Denver’s Matt Laatsch. It’s just the way it worked out. “We were all in the same boat,” Ulanski said. “We weren’t going to the AHL and we didn’t know much about pro hockey. But Malcolm was one of the first coaches to contact all three of us.” Cameron recruited each player separately. There was no package deal, no buy-two-get-one-free kind of thing. In fact, it wasn’t until they compared notes that they knew that the Ice Dogs were interested in each of them. They could have gone separate ways, but, obviously, chose not to. Foster was the first to sign, then the other two fell in line shortly thereafter. center_img “We talked about which coaches we were talking to and looked to see where each guy fit in best,” said Drummond, a 5-7, 170-pound winger who spent most of last year on a line with Ulanski and finished his college career with 44 goals and 43 assists. “Malcolm told us how he was building a championship team and we wanted to be part of that.” There were some other tangible things that brought them here. The jump from college hockey to the pro game can be tough, and they figured that being together could help ease some of that. “It makes the transition into pro hockey a little easier if you know some of the guys,” said Foster, a 5-10, 185-pound winger who posted 44 goals and 34 assists in college. Clearly, they get along well a lot like brothers, with plenty of ribbing to go around. They live in the same apartment complex and ride to and from the rink together. But for the first time, they are truly competing against each other. Cameron needs to make a handful of roster cuts to get down to 20 players by early next week. As rookies, they might be more vulnerable to being released than more experienced players. But what if one or just two make it? They understand how it works. “We don’t talk about that at all,” Ulanski said. “Whatever happens, happens. We support each other and we all expect to make the team.” Added Foster: “We are going out there and playing our games and hoping it all works out.” Each player brings something different to the team. Ulanski is “an inspirational type of player, the Energizer Bunny,” Cameron said. “He causes havoc and creates offense because of his forecheck. He is very well-rounded.” Foster “is a gifted shooter; he’s got a great shot,” Cameron said. “He needs to manufacture some goals and be a presence on special teams and offer some good defense as well.” And as for Drummond, “there is no hiding it that he is a small guy, a skill guy,” Cameron said. “He has to utilize his speed and skill and try to be offensive. That’s his forte.” So far, Cameron has liked what he has seen in all three, and he certainly likes their intangibles, having won NCAA titles. “We are lucky all three chose to come here,” he said. “I like good rookies and I like guys who know how to win. That’s what I’m looking for in a player.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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