By Dan McCaffery
Jesse Drydak has turned professional.
The all-time scoring leader of the Sarnia Legionnaires Jr. 'B' hockey club has inked a one-year contract with the Neuwied Bears of Germany's Ober League.
Drydak, who was named Western Ontario Hockey Conference 'Player-of-the-Year' last winter, scored 120 regular season goals during four seasons in Sarnia.
''It's pretty awesome,” the 20-year-old rightwinger said. “I was very lucky to get a contract because they usually look at guys who are a little older.”
As for Neuwied, he said, “It's a nice, small town about 45 minutes from Cologne.”
The Petrolia native is hoping he can continue to move up the ladder in hockey.
“If I do well I'll be able to resign there or sign with another team at a higher level,” he said. “My long-term objective is to get to a top league in Europe. You never know what could come out of this.”
Drydak set numerous Legionnaire records and helped the team win the Western Jr. 'B' crown in 2009.
One of his teammates on that championship squad, German-born defenceman Thomas Ziokowski, helped Drydak get in touch with the Bears. “I owe a big thanks to Thomas and his dad for helping me,” Drydak said.
He says his former Sarnia coaches also deserve credit for his success. “Bill Abercrombie helped me get adjusted to junior hockey, Jeff Perry took me to the next level and Dan Rose took me to another level after that.”
Drydak will leave for Germany in August. Once there, he will train for a few weeks on Olympic size ice surfaces with Sarnia Sting forward Nick Latta, a native of Germany who lives in that country during the off-season.
Drydak, who was best known for his explosive speed, believes his game is tailored for the larger European rinks.
“I'm really looking forward to the bigger ice surfaces because that really opens up the game,” he said. “I always enjoyed playing on the Olympic size surfaces in London and Leamington.”