By Joel Badzinski | LaCrosse Tribune | Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Defenseman Eric Drapluk’s stock as a college prospect has been rising steadily since the Coulee Region Chill brought him into the NAHL last season.
NCAA Division I Lake Superior State (Mich.) invested early, and it has paid off with a commitment from Drapluk, 19, for the 2012-13 season.
He said he will receive an 85 percent scholarship. Division I programs Air Force and Massachusetts-Lowell also expressed interest, but none were as persistent as Lake Superior.
“I liked the school; I got a good vibe there,” Drapluk said Tuesday. “They saw me play last year at the (NAHL Prospects Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich.) and have been in contact since then. I went up there for a visit (in September) and decided it’s the right place for me.”
Drapluk, a native of Pembroke Pines, Fla., has played in 71 regular-season games for the Chill, with 35 points (two goals-33 assists) and a plus-10 rating.
Lake Superior State, which is ranked No. 11 by U.S. College Hockey Online, gets a mobile, smart, puck-moving defenseman in Drapluk.
“He’s got good speed, a good stick and sees the ice well,” said Chill coach Garrett Strot, who took Drapluk in the fourth round of the 2010 draft from Philadelphia (EJHL). “I think they also like his grittiness. I think he’ll do well because of his vision and speed because the game gets faster and faster at that level.”
Drapluk said three seasons of junior hockey helped him develop the right mental attitude as much as the physical tools to play at the Division I level.
“I learned being tough and disciplined on the ice and move of a controlled player and not getting so nervous,” Drapluk said. “Playing three years you also see different types of players and who is going D-I and where you should be at compared to them.”
Drapluk grew up in a suburb of Miami. From an early age, he had to travel extensively because of a relative lack of ice arenas and youth programs in Florida.
“Moving away from home and traveling all over the country, this definitely makes it all worthwhile,” Drapluk said. “Watching college hockey on TV, you want to be there one day and to accomplish it is a pretty good feeling.”
Drapluk is even looking forward to relocating to a small town on the eastern end of the Upper Peninsula (Sault Ste. Marie) that borders Canada.
“I liked the change,” Drapluk said. “I’m from a bigger city and moving around opens your eyes to what’s out there. I think it’s awesome to experience other things. It’s a small school but that way you can really bond with your team.”