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Grittier now and smooth as ever, Cretin-Derham Hall’s Drew Fisher is the Metro Player of the Year

By DAVID LA VAQUE, Star Tribune, 03/07/22, 2:45PM CST


A senior forward, he made himself more important than his 28 goals and 31 assists by blocking shots, backchecking and being “a different Drew.”

“I’ve seen a different Drew. He’s matured. It’s not just talk anymore. He’s living it. He’s truly embodied the role of being a leader that’s going to do the little things to win.” — Cretin-Derham Hall coach Matt Funk

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

Drew Fisher, in the middle of the action in January. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine

Meet the new Drew Fisher, a more physical and fearless version of the Cretin-Derham Hall hockey senior previously best known for his scoring prowess.

He’s now Fisher the check finisher, making himself an asset even without the puck, or Drew the determined, throwing himself at opponents and blocking shots.

He kept his scoring touch, too. Fisher’s career highs in goals (28) and assists (31), combined with his grit and intensity, are big reasons top-ranked Cretin-Derham Hall reached its first state tournament since 2009.

Fisher is the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year.

“I’ve seen a different Drew,” Raiders coach Matt Funk said. “He’s matured. It’s not just talk anymore. He’s living it. He’s truly embodied the role of being a leader that’s going to do the little things to win.”

Funk’s favorite Fisher performance came in an early-February victory against Eden Prairie. Despite finishing with zero goals or assists for just the third time all season, Fisher’s effort plays paced a 1-0 victory.

“When the top players are blocking shots or hitting guys, it’s contagious,” said Fisher, a two-time team captain. “Our downfall the past couple years has been our physicality. We tended to think we could beat people just with our skill and speed. This year, we’ve come to realize we have to play differently in the playoffs, more gritty.”

Fisher is one point shy of averaging two per game in his three seasons of varsity hockey. He plays right wing on a line with brother Jake, who ranks second on the team with 23 goals and 29 assists. Their father, Tony, a 1993 Cretin-Derham Hall graduate and standout baseball player, offered a different perspective on defining hockey success.

“He taught me to appreciate the things I do beyond scoring goals,” Fisher said. “He says, ‘You can have a great game without scoring points if you block a bunch of shots, hit a bunch of guys and backcheck your butt off.’”

Five days after the Eden Prairie victory, Fisher put together what he called his best game this season in a 4-1 victory against Stillwater. He played tough without the puck and added a goal and assist. Fisher recalled Funk’s challenge after the regular season’s penultimate game.

“He pulled me aside and said, ‘I want you to have a Charlie Strobel-type playoff run,’” Fisher said.

Strobel played the catalyst role in Hill-Murray’s 2020 state tournament championship run. He scored 27 goals and embodied the Pioneers’ relentless effort on the big stage.

Fisher accepted the challenge. In the Section 3 semifinal game against Rosemount, he scored shorthanded to give the Raiders a third-period lead they would not relinquish. And he solidified the victory by blocking a shot, corralling the loose puck and filling the empty net.

The puck he took from the point in the abdomen didn’t leave a mark, but Fisher’s courage made an impression.

“I said to the team afterward, ‘If you would have told me three years ago that in the section semifinals Drew Fisher was going to block a shot that would lead to an empty-net goal to clinch the game, I would have said you’re crazy,’” Funk said.

In the section final against Eastview, Fisher gave his team a 1-0 lead with his tenacity. He outbattled a Lightning defender near the net, fought his way to a rebound and scored on his second swipe at the puck.

“That was 100 percent the new Drew,” Funk said. “He never was a prima donna, but he always went to the top of the slot or shot from the perimeter. Now he’s going to those gritty spots.”

Past Star Tribune Metro Players of the Year

2021: Kyle Kukkonen, Maple Grove
2020: Matthew Gleason, Cretin-Derham Hall
2019: Mike Koster, Chaska
2018: Sammy Walker, Edina
2017: Casey Mittelstadt, Eden Prairie
2016: Riley Tufte, Blaine
2015: Dylan Malmquist, Edina
2014: Brock Boeser, Burnsville
2013: Grant Besse, Benilde-St. Margaret’s
2012: Justin Kloos, Lakeville South
2011: Kyle Rau, Eden Prairie
2010: Nick Bjugstad, Blaine
2009: Nick Leddy, Eden Prairie
2008: Jake Gardiner, Minnetonka
2007: Michael Dorr, Roseville
2006: Jay Barriball, Holy Angels
2005: R.J. Anderson, Centennial
2004: Tom Gorowsky, Centennial
2003: Mike Lundin, Apple Valley
2002: Travis Morin, Osseo
2001: Marty Sertich, Roseville
2000: Paul Martin, Elk River
1999: Jeff Taffe, Hastings; Dan Welch, Hastings
1998: Johnny Pohl, Red Wing
1997: Dan Carlson, Edina
1996: Shawn Pogreba, St. Paul Johnson
1995: Richie Anderson, Elk River
1994: Mike Crowley, Bloomington Jefferson
1993: Nick Checco, Bloomington Jefferson
1992: Brian Bonin, White Bear Lake
1991: Darby Hendrickson, Richfield
1990: Craig Johnson, Hill-Murray
1989: Trent Klatt, Osseo
1988: Tom Pederson, Bloomington Jefferson
1987: Jon Manthey, Anoka
1986: Scott Bloom, Burnsville; Jim Carroll, Edina
1985: Tom Chorske, Minneapolis Southwest



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