Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Alumni Update: #11 Jake Dowell

I can’t figure out how to put captions under pictures, but this photo is courtesy of Neil Ament.

Anyway, I ran into Jake Dowell a couple times this summer at HDSA fundraisers, and he
was kind enough to agree to answer some questions for Hockey in Wisconsin regarding his budding professional hockey career. (By the way, The Fore a Cure Golf Outing in Eau Claire raised over $31,000 for the John Dowell Foundation and HDSA, and the HDSA Cocktail Gala in Johnson Creek raised approximately $33,000. To learn more about Huntington’s Disease or to make a donation, click HERE.)

HIW: After the Badger season ended last year, you headed out to Norfolk, where you had a quite respectable professional debut. You averaged over 0.5 points per game, scoring 2 goals and 3 assists in 9 regular season games and 3 assists in 6 Calder Cup Playoff games. Tell us a little more about your experiences with Norfolk. How hard was it to make the transition from college hockey to the professional level? Can you describe your first professional goal?

JD: Having the opportunity to go play in Norfolk was obviously a great way for me to start out my professional career and play in some games and get to know the guys in the system before my first full season professionally. I found the transition to be quite easy so far as I was put in and played right away when I got there and really just kept my game simple. The pace wasn't any different but I found the players to be very smart and poised with the puck as well as just being much stronger than the average college player. My first goal was not a surprise in how I scored it. It came in my third professional game against Philly.I was on a 3 on 2 rush and I passed the puck to my teammate and went to the net. When he shot it at the net I just grabbed the rebound and smashed it in.

HIW: In July you participated in the Blackhawks Prospects Camp, skating with the “pros” as opposed to the “prospects”. Can you tell us a little bit about your experiences at the camp? How different was it to skate with the “pros” as opposed to past camps when you skated with the “prospects”?

JD: The prospect camp is a camp that the Blackhawks hold every summer after the draft around the 4th of July in order to see the progress of their old picks as well as an up close look at their picks from that summer. I had been in the prospects pool for the last 3 summers and since I played in Norfolk at the end of the year, I was put in with the 12 or so guys that were in the pro side. We really just worked out with Dan Jansen off the ice to work on conditioning and our leg strength as well as work on our skating on the ice. It was a great experience because I got to spend more time with the guys that are going to be my teammates as well as work on my skating which has always been the main thing holding me back.

HIW: In August you were in Rockford participating in a conditioning camp run by Dan Jansen. I read an article in the Rockford paper that indicated that this was the last of three progressively tougher conditioning camps, about which Jansen said, “my goal is for us to get to training camp this year and not have to work so hard because we’ve had such a good summer.” Can you tell us a bit more about the camps and how they’re helping to prepare you for the upcoming season?

JD: The camp in Rockford was really just like the previous two camps that we had been doing in Chicago earlier in the summer with Dan Jansen. They were to get us in shape as well as work on our skating, and Dan said that we have all improved drastically already. I really enjoy the camps as it gets me in shape easier with all the guys there as well as gives me a chance to gauge myself against the other guys and see where I am at at that point of the summer.

HIW: What else have you been doing this summer to get ready for the upcoming season? Has the coaching staff given you anything in particular to work on?

JD: This summer I have really just been working on my skating to keep getting faster and quicker and my conditioning to get ready for this season. I just feel that I can always work on my skills and I have been really working on them when I am out on the ice, but I know that if I am not in great shape and I am getting tired easily, then my skills are not going to be as sharp and so I am making sure that I have good base by being well conditioned.

HIW: Training camp starts September 13. What do you expect from the camp?

JD: As far as camp goes, I am not sure what to expect right now. I just know that it is going to be a very demanding camp physically and mentally and so I am just preparing myself and telling myself that I need to make sure that I play very hard and consistent and do something so that they feel that they have to keep me around on the team.

HIW: With Norfolk last season you wore #28, and I see you’ll be wearing #49 with Chicago. Any significance to these numbers?

I just wore number 28 in Norfolk because that is what they gave me. I don't know if I will wear that number this season. I hope to be in Chicago as much as possible and play and get as much experience at that level as I can so that I can become an NHL regular in the near future. I didn't have anything to do with the #49 that they assigned me so far. I don't really care for that number, but I really don't get that worked up about numbers and if I was to get to stay in the NHL for good, then I would switch numbers at that time.

HIW: Congratulations for recently winning the Community Humanitarian Award from the HDSA. I know that the “Fore a Cure” events in Eau Claire over the past 3 years have raised quite a bit of money, and you’ve also raised awareness of HD through newspaper and television interviews, including an interview that aired on national television. What does it mean to you to win this award from the HDSA?

JD: As far as the HDSA award, it was an honor to receive and what it means to me is that I have a lot of good people around me that have helped me to raise awareness to the disease and I am just in a good position with the amount of media that is around that I can use that to my advantage and have stories done locally and nationally to get more people in tune with how horrible HD is and get more and more people donating so that we can find a cure for HD as well as other diseases like Parkinsons Disease. I will keep doing whatever I can to raise awareness and I just hope for the people in my generation who still don't know if they have the HD gene as well as myself, that we can soon not have to worry about it anymore as there will be a cure or at least a treatment. I know that there are a lot of other people that do so much more than me out there and they deserve this award just as much as me and I look at this as a team effort in which many people in the world need to keep coming together in order to save the lives of thousands of others.

Thanks again to Jake for sharing with us. Good luck this season, Jake!