Lee Benson, Deseret News
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — For Randy Lewis, the Realtors' magic formula held true when he bought the house at 7515 S. 2700 East.
Location, Location, Location.
It was right across the street from an ice rink.
Ice rinks are rare in Utah now. In 1985 they were even rarer. As a kid, Randy had grown up skating and playing hockey at Hygeia in Sugar House, but that was gone. The public rink at the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center was one of the few in the entire Salt Lake Valley.
For Randy, it was nirvana. From his new home he walked across the street to play hockey in men's leagues, he taught his stepson, Mike, how to skate, and when Randy and his wife, Linda, had a son together in 1987, Randy soon took Trevor across the street too.
Trevor didn't know how to say much of anything at first. He was 2. He sure couldn't pronounce "Stanley Cup."
And now he's playing in it.
Of all the improbable, impossible, no-way-that-should-have-happened sports stories you're going to hear this year — and the Olympics are coming up, so brace yourself — none figure to be any more improbable than Trevor Lewis, born and raised in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, playing for the Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 National Hockey League Stanley Cup finals.
The Kings lead the New Jersey Devils two games to none in their best-of-seven series, with game three coming up tonight in Los Angeles. The Kings are attempting to become the first No. 8 seed to win the Stanley Cup, and with home-ice advantage, a 2-0 lead — and a beat-the-odds-kid from Utah in the lineup — they just might pull it off.
The story, as hockey stories do, starts in Canada. In 1964, Paul and Barbara Lewis, lured by business opportunities and a change of scenery, loaded up their three young kids, Randy, Melanee and Lindsey, and moved 718 miles south from Calgary, Alberta, to the Salt Lake Valley.
The move proved prosperous and the family never went back, but there was one part of Canada they refused to leave behind. Hockey. Paul Lewis was a hockey nut. His brother, Loren, had played briefly in the NHL, and every Saturday night Paul could be found in the den, tuned to the NHL game of the week.
He passed his love of hockey down to his son Randy, who, despite the fact there were no organized high school leagues in Utah, used the ice time at Hygeia to earn a scholarship to play college hockey in Minnesota.
And Randy passed that love on down to his sons.
Trevor, people remember, put the skates on and never wanted to take them off.
"The ice was his home," says his mom. "He absolutely loved it. Some kids would get sick sometimes or not want to go. Trevor, sick, feeling good, whatever, he never didn't want to go. He was a rink rat."
He started playing on organized teams when he was eight, coached more often than not by his father.
"Trevor's best coach was his dad," says Steve Limb, Trevor's uncle, who married Melanee, Randy's sister and Paul's daughter, and became an adopted hockey nut himself.
Steve coached the Brighton High School club team that included his sons, Chase and Cooper, and — for one season — their cousin, Trevor.
"The best thing about Trev, he would work harder than anybody else," says Steve.
"And he was fast from day one," adds Melanee.
Trevor's only season at Brighton was as a 15-year-old freshman in 2002. The Bengals took second in state, losing in the championship game in overtime to Davis. Trevor was the team's leading goal scorer, beating out a seasoned senior, Ryan Flink, by one goal.
Still, Utah is to hockey training what Jamaica is to bobsled training, which is why Trevor loaded up all that talent and left home after his freshman year.
He spent the next three years in Colorado, playing in a competitive league for the Colorado Springs Miners. After graduating from high school he was the 17th player taken in the 2006 NHL draft, chosen by the Kings, and wound up first being assigned to the Des Moines Buccaneers in the United States Hockey League, the top junior league in the country. He was called up briefly by the Kings in 2009 and 2010 and has played the last two seasons in full.
It's not like it happens every day. NHL records show that just four native Utahns have ever laced up skates at that level: Steve Konowalchuk, who played 14 seasons, mostly with the Washington Capitals; and current players Dylan Olsen (who was born in Salt Lake when his dad, Darryl, was playing for the Golden Eagles) in the Chicago Blackhawks organization and Richard Bachman, a goalie for Dallas.
No native Utahn had ever played in a Stanley Cup series … until now.
"It is so surreal, and yet it's real," says Linda Lewis, who will be rink-side tonight in Los Angeles for Game 3, as will Randy (The Lewises are divorced). "People don't understand just how much went into this. I mean, they used to walk across the street to that rink all the time. It wasn't every day but it was almost every day. Trev was such a good kid and is such a good person. He used to say when he was little, when he was with his other hockey buddies, one of these days we're going to win the Stanley Cup. Now look at him. He's living a dream."
A dream that has everyone associated with Utah hockey, everyone who uses the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center, everyone who knows Trevor, and, especially, everyone related to him, bursting with pride.
"We just can't believe it," says Trevor's Aunt Melanee, who doesn't want to jinx anything but still can't help conjecturing what would happen if the Kings prevail and every member of the team gets his customary 24 hours with the Stanley Cup.
First thing they'd do when it reaches Salt Lake, she said, is take it and set it down on Grandpa Paul's grave. Preferably on a Saturday night.
Lee Benson's About Utah column runs Monday and Friday. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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