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Leafs TV to Air Class of 2006

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

Watch the best hockey from the CCHA all winter long on Leafs TV!

by Brian Bileski
/LeafsTV
October 25, 2006

Every hockey player has a dream. A dream to play in a big game, to score a winning goal, to skate in front of a crowd of thousands, a dream to be something special, playing the coolest game around. Some are fortunate enough to play in the NHL, a chance to prove they've got the right stuff to stay in the greatest hockey league in the world. Getting there is tough, being hit by lightning is easier, but that doesn't hinder the determination of each and every hockey player out there. 

Anthony Cogliano one of many Ontario natives playing in the NCAA .

Some Canadian kids choose the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) route, honing their skills playing in hockey towns like London, Kelowna or Rimouski.  

Others take a different path, the college route, suiting up for top programs like Michigan and Miami Ohio. More and more NHL stars are coming out of the college ranks to score big-time goals for their clubs. Former Hobey Baker winners are putting up huge scoring numbers in the big league matching CHL graduates' stats, all while proving they belong in the National Hockey League. 

Some of the top young talent is saying "No' to the NHL to stay in school instead. Look no further than Jack Johnson, Carolina Hurricane's top pick in the 2005 draft, as he heads into his second season at the University of Michigan instead of signing a multi-year contract with the big club. This year's number one pick overall, Erik Johnson of the St.Louis Blues, is headed to the University of Minnesota instead of the "Gateway to the West'. 

Is this the new trend?  Are we seeing a new movement in youngsters who are choosing education over big time money? Only time will tell. 

One thing is for sure, not everybody can live out a dream. A college degree is like an insurance package, a back-up plan in case the game doesn't offer a fat contract when the NHL comes calling...if the NHL comes calling. 

LeafsTV respects the college game and all it's done for the NHL. From players like Rob Blake to Anson Carter, from Rob Brind'Amour to Robbie Earl, where would the NHL be without the college game acting as a feeder system? 

Last May, LeafsTV invited Ontario's top college recruits to a closed door on-ice competition at the Toronto Maple Leafs practice facility. 

Top stars heading to the University of New Hampshire, UMass-Lowell and Holy Cross strutted their stuff out on the ice. Their skills shined as they were skated through numerous drills such as breakaway skills, rapid fire, target shooting and speed skating. After filming them it was evident all of them could hold their own no matter who they were playing with. Each of them have played in big games, scored winning goals, and skated in front of a crowd of thousands. Their dreams to play in the NHL are alive and well.  If anything, they are all on the fast track to becoming stars in their own leagues, maybe one day a star in the biggest league in the world.

Here is the list of the talented group of young hockey players featured in this year's 'LeafsTV Class of 2006':

Peter Leblanc - University of New Hampshire / Hamilton(OPJHL)
Joshua Gillam - Dartmouth College / Peterborough(OPJHL)
David McIntyre - Colgate / Newmarket(OPJHL)
Chris Auger - UMASS-Lowell / Wellington(OPJHL)
Jeremy Dupont - Nebraska-Omaha / Aurora(OPJHL)
Tyler Chestnut - Holy Cross / Pembroke(CJHL)
Julian Zamparo - Western Michigan / St.Mike's(OPJHL)
Mike McKenze - St.Lawrence / St.Mike's(OPJHL)
Simon Gysbers - Lake Superior State / Stoufville(OPJHL)
Matt Martello - Lake Superior State / Vaughn(OPJHL)
Frankie Stegnar - UMASS-Lowell / Brampton(OPJHL)
Paul Kerins - RPI / North York(OPJHL)

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