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Bell Skills First Challenge Returns

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

(January 24, 2004) -- Minor hockey players will test their skills Sunday at the Toronto Maple Leafs/Bell Skills First Challenge at Air Canada Centre.

The event is the culmination of a five-month process where 3,000 Ontario minor atom and atom-age players, boys and girls, participated in drills in their team practices to improve their hockey skills in forward and backward skating, agility, puck control, accuracy and goaltending agility.

Elimination rounds narrowed the pool to 100 young players who get to participate in the Bell Skills First Challenge and have an opportunity to compete for one of eight spots in the Bell Toronto Maple Leafs Skills Competition.

Our coaches know we need to improve the skills of our Canadian hockey players, said Ken Dryden, vice-chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd.The Bell Skills First Challenge gives coaches and players an incentive to focus on a players development in their practices, and to earn their way to Air Canada Centre for the provincial finals, and the dream of competing with and against their favourite Leafs players.

The eight selected minor hockey players, boys and girls, will have an opportunity to join the Leafs players in the Toronto Maple Leafs Bell Skills Competition, which also takes place Sunday afternoon.

They will participate in on-ice events including: the Kelloggs Puck Control Relay, Bell Fastest Skater, Tim Hortons Accuracy Shooting and the Esso On the Run Breakaway Relay.

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