What a difference a season has made for the Des Moines Buccaneers and Trevor Lewis. The Bucs had a USHL-worst 17-37-6 record in 2004-05 and forward Chad Rau was one of the lone bright spots, second in USHL scoring with 31 goals and 40 assists. Rau was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the seventh round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and left for Colorado College while Lewis and the Bucs were left to rebuild.
Rebuild they have. The team leads the USHL East Division with a 21-6-4 record, thanks in large part to a solid goaltending duo and an infusion of scoring, led by Lewis. Lewis lies second in USHL scoring with 22 goals, 19 assists, and 41 points in 28 games, second only to Cedar Rapids’ Chad Costello, ironically a native of the Des Moines area and a former Buccaneer. As an 18-year-old USHL rookie, Lewis had a modest 10 goals and 12 assists in 52 games. Teaming with USHL Draft first overall pick Kyle Okposo in 2005-06, the 19-year-old Bucs center has become one of the top forwards in the USHL. A speedy center who consistently finishes his checks, Lewis is a staple on the Bucs penalty kill, often on the first PK unit with Okposo and defensemen John Vadnais and Chase Ryan.
Not only has Lewis excelled in the USHL, he excelled for Team USA at the Viking Cup in Camrose, Alberta. The Utah native scored a hat trick in his first game for Team USA, an 8-4 victory December 26th against Slovakia in which the Buc was named USA Star of the Game. He also had a two-assist performance against in a 9-5 victory of Finland December 31st and a three-assist performance to close the tournament against Switzerland. Lewis was named the USA Star of the Game in the 6-2 American victory January 2nd. Team USA, comprised primarily of USHL players, finished second in the tournament with a 5-0-1 record, suffering a 3-2 overtime loss to the AJHL South All-Stars. The AJHL North All-Stars won took the gold with an undefeated record and the AJHL South took the bronze despite beating Team USA.
Hockey’s Future caught up to Lewis January 7th after a 6-1 Buccaneers victory over the Lincoln Stars, with four of Des Moines’ goals coming in the third period. In fitting fashion, Lewis was named the First Star of the Game after scoring two goals, including a highlight-reel goal at 5:01 of the third period in which he used his considerable speed and power to beat the Lincoln defenseman wide with one hand on his stick a la Jaromir Jagr. He scored with a hard wrist shot upon getting two hands on his stick as he fast approached the net.
HF: Tell me about tonight’s game a little bit.
TL: We started out a little slow, but I think gradually we picked it up, started to bury it, beared down on some pucks and scored some goals.
HF: Tell me a little bit about the Viking Cup and starting off the tournament with a hat trick against Slovakia.
TL: Yeah, that felt pretty good, first time wearing the USA sweater, so it felt real good. We played pretty well, even in the game we lost we played pretty well. We kind of shut them down, but they scored and beat us in overtime.
HF: How would you say the play in the Viking Cup compared to the USHL?
TL: I think it was pretty even. More of the European teams weren’t very much hitting, more finesse. Other than that it was a lot of skill. The Canadian team was pretty physical and pretty much the same (as the USHL).
HF: Did the Viking Cup give you a boost heading into tonight’s game?
TL: Yeah, I think it gave me a lot of confidence, me and Kyle Okposo both, it gave us a lot of confidence and we showed it out here.
HF: Moving on to another confidence builder, you committed to Michigan. Tell me a little bit about what made you decide to become a Wolverine.
TL: I went to a game on my visit and the atmosphere was just unbelievable. That was when I really knew I wanted to go there. All of the guys were great, so as soon as I left I knew that was where I was going.
HF: Any worries about going to a team with incredible line depth?
TL: No, I talked to the coach about that, so I should be alright.
HF: Does having coach Red Berenson there, is that one of the main draws?
TL: Definitely, he’s such a great coach and knows so much about the game.
HF: What other schools had you been considering?
TL: Boston College, Maine, Ohio State, Bowling Green, and Ferris State.
HF: The Bucs are a lot better this year than last year, what do you feel are some of the biggest differences?
TL: This year we have a lot more returners who are stepping up to the plate and we have a lot of new guys in here, like Kyle Okposo, it’s really helped us a lot. We’ve got skill, talent, and dedication.
HF: How important has playing on a line with Okposo been for you this year?
TL: Playing with him has been great. I know where he is everywhere on the ice, he’s a great player. He’s really strong, solid. He’s helped me a lot, learning from him, I think he’s probably learned a little bit from me too.
HF: What are some of the things you worked on this summer?
TL: Really, just working out and trying to get stronger and bigger.
HF: Did you focus mostly on legs, upper body, whole thing?
TL: Pretty much the whole thing.
HF: Have you always had such speed?
TL: I’ve always had a little bit of speed, I just think getting my legs stronger has helped me a lot.
HF: How would you describe your game, what do you feel are the strengths of your game?
TL: My skating, I’d say, and then my vision on the ice. I like to score.
HF: What are some of the areas you’re looking to improve on?
TL: Probably a little bit of d zone, staying down low, my face-offs I could work on a lot. So, those are the two areas I think I need to work on.
HF: Tell me about your hockey before the USHL, where you played.
TL: I grew up playing in Utah. I went and played midgets in Colorado Springs with the Pike’s Peak Miners for two years and then actually got drafted by Cedar Rapids, got cut there, and then the Bucs called me.
HF: Utah is not known as a hockey state, do you feel you represent the state in a way.
TL: Yeah, there’s no hockey there. It’s starting to grow after the Olympics came there, but you pretty much have to move away to go anywhere in hockey. I do feel I kind of represent Utah.
HF: When did you start playing hockey?
TL: My dad’s actually from Canada, so he got me started when I was two.
HF: Who were some of your favorite NHLers growing up, or who was your favorite team?
TL: My favorite team was the Detroit Red Wings, favorite player growing up was Steve Yzerman. I try to play like him.
HF: Who’s the hardest defenseman to play against in the league?
TL: Well, in practice, definitely John Vadnais, he’s hard to beat one-on-one.
HF: Any goalies that you feel stand out above the rest.
TL: Alex Stalock I think is very good. Brian Foster and Troy Davenport, and Alex Kangas of Sioux Falls.
HF: What is it like having two goalies on your team that could pretty much start anywhere else?
TL: It’s great. If one has a bad game, the next one is going to play great. They’re both pretty good every night, it’s pretty nice to have that. I think that’s a big difference from last year also.
Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.