The Post-Journal

West Ellicott Man Forges Relationship With Adams

The drive from Drew Weaver’s home in West Ellicott to the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina is 660 miles.

Door to door.

The 19-year-old is something of an authority on the trip, considering he’s made the 10-hour jaunt four times in a little more than two months. Toss in a trip to East Rutherford, New Jersey and a couple treks to Buffalo, and Weaver figures he’s spent about $2,000 and traveled close to 6,000 miles since the Stanley Cup playoffs began in late April.

But as a fan of the Carolina Hurricanes and good friend of their center, Kevyn Adams, Weaver didn’t mind a bit.

“I’ve been all over the map to go to these games,” Weaver said.

It’s not like someone had to twist his arm to go, though. As an accomplished hockey player himself — he’s played two years with the Junior B Rochester Americans and will try out for a walk-on spot on St. Lawrence University’s Division I team this fall — Weaver eats, breathes and sleeps hockey.

So in the early morning hours of June 19, Weaver and his buddies — Justin Murray and Greg Warner of Jamestown, and Pat Kelliher of Chili — piled in Murray’s Chevy Trailblazer and headed south to watch the Hurricanes meet Edmonton in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Weaver had seen the Oilers blank the Hurricanes, 4-0, on television two nights before and there was no way he was going to miss a chance to witness Carolina win the championship on its home ice, this time in person.

“Spur-of-the-moment road trips are the best,” Weaver said. ” … We got to the hotel, took a quick nap, had fun in the player parking lot with the player wives and then we went to the game.”

As it turned out, they were just getting warmed up.

For those area residents still mourning the Buffalo Sabres’ Eastern Conference finals loss to the Hurricanes, be advised that Carolina defeated the Oilers, 3-1, to win the coveted Cup, four games to three.

And Weaver was there postgame to celebrate the victory and hold the cherished Stanley Cup with his buddy Adams, who grew up in Western New York and now has a home in Bemus Point. The two have been friends for about three years after first getting to know each other at Moon Brook Country Club.

“Kevyn’s always been underestimated, and now he’s holding the Stanley Cup,” Weaver said. “He’s a world champion and a top player in the NHL right now, and he’s a better person than a player.”

Weaver is admittedly biased. He and Adams are summer workout partners — they lift weight at Adams’ home gym and try and beat each other during grueling, once-a-week runs — but there’s more to the relationship than that.

“Even though we’re training partners and hockey friends, we consider each other like family,” Weaver said. “It’s a good relationship.”

So how did Weaver feel when Adams, who played virtually all of game 7 with a broken arm — suffered when he blocked one of Chris Pronger’s shots — hoisted the Stanley Cup?

“Unbelievable goosebumps,” Weaver said.

But there’s more to this story than a tie to a world championship. Goosebumps aren’t reserved solely for on-ice victories. Weaver knows that all too well. Sometimes one has to take the road less traveled and overcome incredible obstacles to arrive at the desired destination. Life doesn’t always deliver straight-shot road trips.

At just about this time last year, Weaver was entertaining offers to play Junior A hockey — a necessary stepping stone to a potential Division I college opportunity — only to have them dry up at the last minute.

A short time later, Waver’s hockey future dropped like a rock on his priority list when his father, Dean, was rushed to Hamot Medical Center in Erie, Pennsylvania, a victim of what was later diagnosed as vasculitis. In critical condition for weeks, Dean fought his way back from the brink of death and returned home on Oct. 21.

Adams, the guy who had been there to offer Weaver hockey and workout advice, told his young friend that being a good person is more important than being a good hockey player. Weaver took the counsel to heart.

“It shows you that you never know what life’s gong to throw you,” Weaver said in recalling last fall’s roller-coaster ride. “It’s been a battle, and a battle I wouldn’t change, because everybody’s been made a better person.”

Nearly a year since disappointment and near-tragedy convened at his doorstep, Weaver is now reaping the rewards of hard work and patience.

After a strong Junior B season with the Rochester Americans and a fine showing at a national Tier II-Junior B tournament in suburban Chicago in January, Weaver was planning to play for the Bay State Breakers, a Junior A team based in Boston.

“That was pretty much a done deal,” he said. “All I had to do was show up. It was in the Junior A league I wanted to be in. It would have been perfect.”

But as he drove home from Rochester one day last spring, Weaver received a phone call from St. Lawrence University hockey coach Joe Marsh, who invited Waver to the Canton campus for a visit.

After a two-hour meeting in Marsh’s office, Weaver was granted an opportunity to try out for the hockey team as a walk-on this fall.

“It’s a risk,” Weaver admitted, “but St. Lawrence is where I want to be as far as an education. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Until he leaves for St. Lawrence at the end of August, Weaver will spend his summer working out under Adams’ watchful eye. Although the fractured arm he suffered early in Game 7 will prevent him from lifting weights for a while, Adams plans to continue running with Weaver every Tuesday, as they always do.

For Weaver, it’s another road trip he’s definitely looking forward to.

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