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Banner's Luplow Brothers Team Up on UW Hockey Club

January 15, 2009

For Drew and Craig Luplow, there's plenty to like about hockey.

They thrive on the adrenaline and excitement. They're addicted to the fast and furious action. They appreciate the strategy of the game and the physical competition.

Oh, then there's this: "Neither of us is fast enough to run," cracks Drew, "so we have to wear skates if we want to keep up with anybody."

That, jokes Craig, is only partially true.

"He can't even skate, that's why he's a goalie."

Drew shoots a glare at his younger brother and quips, "I'd rather be a goalie than skate out and get my butt kicked like you do."

After two years apart -- Drew was enrolled at Colorado State University (CSU) while Craig finished classes at Sheridan High School -- the brothers from the small northern Wyoming community of Banner are together again on the University of Wyoming hockey club.

Following a six-week holiday break, the Cowboys (10-6) return to the ice this weekend with games at Iowa State and Creighton. UW was also scheduled to play Kansas on this road trip, but the Jayhawks' club squad folded.

As the Cowboys embark on the second half of the 2008-09 season, the Luplow brothers will play pivotal roles in their quest to return to the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division (ACHA) III National Tournament for the first time in three seasons.

The team's No. 2 goaltender, Drew will continue to be asked to spell Robert Kola (Colorado Springs, Colo.) between the pipes; Craig is likely to see increased playing time following the fall graduation of two of UW's top scorers, Tad Bernet (Katy, Texas) and David Wells (Rock Springs).

Drew, an agricultural business junior, and Craig, a premedical freshman, began playing hockey at a young age. They first tried roller hockey and then pond hockey before Sheridan opened the Whitney Community Ice Rink in 2002. Later, Kurt and Terri Luplow's sons helped Sheridan win back-to-back Wyoming State "B" Championships.

"I kind of copied him," says Craig, who decided to take up the sport after watching Drew compete on the ice. "I always copy him."

Following in his brother's footsteps, Craig launched his hockey career as a goalie, the same position Drew has always played. But, Craig says he thought it was "too boring to sit back in the net" and decided to refine his skating skills and become a forward.

Drew's commitment to his position has never wavered. Sure, he says, it would be fun to score goals. But he'd rather stop the puck from finding the back of the net.

"It's so intense," says Drew, who transferred to UW last fall after completing his freshman and sophomore years at CSU, where played horse polo but not hockey. "It gets my blood going every time because it's all on you. I like that kind of pressure."

Again, Craig takes a brotherly jab.

"And he can't skate out very well," he says with a smirk.

"Whatever!" Drew responds.

Their banter is all in good fun. UW Coach Shawn Rockey says Drew and Craig have the type of relationship that most siblings would envy. Even if they weren't brothers, Rockey believes they'd be the best of friends.

"They sleep with their heads on the same pillow on road trips," Rockey says with a wry smile.

Drew and Craig admit they're happy to be reunited following two years in different places. They both say they missed traveling the long roads together on the way to the next game.

"Before we tried out, we said, ‘If we both make the team, we'll play,'" says Drew, who has a 4.54 goals against average in six games this season.

Adds Craig, who has two goals and two assists in 14 games, "It wouldn't have been the same if we both didn't make it."

Now that they're on the team, the brothers hope to help UW improve on its No. 4 ranking in the ACHA Division III Pacific Region.

"We've played OK so far, but I think we could have clicked better," says Drew, who points to the Cowboys' final road trip before winter break as a key bonding experience for the players. "It should be an interesting second half of the season, because I think our chemistry is going to be better. We all know each other better now. Chemistry is going to be really important for us."

Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2009

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