Jets vet Drinkard chooses NCAA D-III Lawrence

FRASER, Mich. – Add Jacob Drinakrd’s name to the list of Metro Jets players that will skate in the NCAA Division III ranks during the 2016-17 season.

With his recent commitment to Lawrence University, an NCHA school located in Appleton, Wis., Drinkard will play against former Metro teammates Jacob Rutkoske (Northland College) and Kevin Shand (Milwaukee School of Engineering) in NCHA contests next year.

Drinkard, who was an alternate captain with the Jets this past season, tallied 22 goals and 52 points in 40 games and also had a stint in the NAHL with the Kenai River Brown Bears.

Now, the 20-year-old Lapeer, Mich., product is off to a Vikings team that finished 9-14-3 last season.

“I reached out to them around December and they had watched me on FASTHockey and finally had the opportunity to come see me play in person during playoffs,” Drinkard said. “Following the season, I went on a visit and that is when they offered me.”

“We are very pleased to welcome Jake to Lawrence University and our hockey program,” said Lawrence coach Mike Szkodzinski. “His on-ice talents will certainly enhance our ability to possess the puck down low and create more scoring opportunities. From the minute he stepped on campus, we could also tell he has the characteristics to be a great representative of our program and the university. We know we just got better with Jake's commitment and we will do everything we can to help him develop on and off the ice.”

Coming to the Jets in an early-season trade from the La Crosse Freeze in 2014-15 after a season in the NA3HL with the Flint Jr. Generals, Drinkard immediately fit in with the Jets system. He posted nine goals and 22 points in 28 games in his first run with Metro.

“’Drinks’ had a career season and has come a long way in his development,” said Metro coach-GM Justin Quenneville. “A true versatile player in every sense of the way. He did everything for us on the ice and off the ice, his character and leadership represented this team in a way any coach would want. He had other NCAA opportunities, but Lawrence really wanted him this upcoming year and at the end of the day, that's what this is about. We wish Jake the best of luck and it will be difficult to replace a player of his quality.”

“The past two seasons with the Jets were unbelievable for my development as a player and as a person,” added Drinkard. “I can’t thank the players and especially the coaching staff at Metro enough for all that they have done for me. Coach Q and the coaches with Metro have been the biggest influence in my hockey career and have made me the player I am today. They have prepared me to make the jump to college hockey.

“It just shows what the coaching staff is doing works. Believing in the process and taking in all the amazing knowledge that the coaches can give you is allowing us to fulfill our dreams of playing college hockey.”

The thanks don’t end there, though.

“I would especially like to thank my mom and my dad, Jennifer and Todd, for always supporting me,” said Drinkard.

In college, Drinakrd is looking to major in economics.

He said getting back into the rhythm of the school side of things won’t be a major adjustment.

“I don’t think it will be too rough to get back in the swing academically,” Drinkard said. “These two years off from school have allowed me to mature a lot, so I’m pretty excited to be back in the classroom. As far as hockey, it’s always tough jumping to a higher level of hockey, but I plan on training very hard this summer to be ready.”