|(above) DU recruit Brad hawkinson is playing for the USHL Lincoln Stars this season|
Brad Hawkinson: 18-y.o. Forward 5-11", 190 Lbs. Aurora, CO.
“Two years ago, I played three or four games (for the Lincoln Stars as a fill-in player), and then last year was my first full season here. I was playing midget hockey in Colorado at the time. It was kind of cool. I got to play in the home opener, and we never played in front of fans back in Colorado, so it was kind of a shock. It was kind of a shock that they called me up, but it was a lot of fun. The game was just so much faster than what I was used to.
“Earlier this season we had a few guys injured and we were short some defensemen. I’m kind of a defensive-center anyway, and they asked me if I could jump back and play defenseman.
“I’ve never really played D in my life, so they threw me in against these forwards that are NHL Draft picks, so it was kind of a shock. You just have to be aware of where they are on the ice. It’s a lot more pressure back there. I’d never admit that to the D, but it’s stressful.
“I’m committed to the University of Denver, and I’ll go in next year. I’ve wanted to go there since I was a tiny kid growing up. That’s all I really knew as far as college hockey. I committed two years ago when I was a junior. The coach that recruited me, Derek Lalonde, had coached me growing up through DU summer camps that I always used to go to. Now he is actually the head coach (of the United States Hockey League’s Green Bay Gamblers).
“My most memorable goal in the USHL is when I scored in overtime last year in Fargo to close out a (second-round) playoff series. That was pretty cool. I remember everything about it, pretty much. It was my first shift in overtime, and I didn’t even know if I’d get to go out in overtime. Ralfs Freibergs, he’s at Bowling Green now, threw one at the net, it went off my shin pad and right to my stick. I just took a whack at it and it went home. It was kind of cool to score a goal of that importance. I hadn’t really scored that much that season.
“Kevin Roy, (the Stars' record-holder with 54 goals in one season), was my roommate last year. We still keep in real close touch, and hopefully we’ll hang out again this summer somewhere. At first, I didn’t really know who he was, and I’m like, ‘Oh, great, they put me with the French-Canadian kid.’ He came to tryout wearing a pink headband and capri pants and I was like, ‘Come on.’ We ended up being best friends and we’re still best friends to this day.
“(Roy) was a great kid. He never talked about how many goals he had or how sick he was. He helped me along, and I helped him out with stuff off the ice. We were good for each other. He didn’t have his driver’s license all year. I drove him around the entire year — to school, practice, friends' houses. Everywhere. And then he decides to get his license a week before we leave. That one week before we went home, he drove everywhere.
“My dad was a fighter pilot in the Air Force for 20 years. My mom and I lived in Utah at the time, and he was stationed in Saudi Arabia. The only sport that we got in Utah was the Colorado Avalanche. I just kind of started watching Avs games and he comes back and I’ve got my little hockey stick and everything — I guess he never heard the end of that one. He’s gone for four months and he comes back and life has kind of changed (for hockey). I lived all over — Arizona, Utah and Colorado.
“This final two months of the season is going to be a hard schedule (as we try to make the playoffs). The playoffs last year were awesome. Everything, even as stupid as it was, we bleached our hair. Even just little things like that. The atmosphere around it and being around the guys for that last little stretch and playing with that urgency was so much fun.
“I’m graduated from high school, but I’m taking Russian on the side to get ready for college. I’m going to minor in Russian. I’m majoring in international relations — like international security. Hopefully, I’ll get a job with the CIA, Homeland Security, Air Force intelligence, something like that. If hockey doesn’t work out, you got to have a backup plan.”