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Confident Chiasson choosing the college route

by John McGourty
Over the past decade, there have been a few players on draft night who exude absolute confidence -- in a quiet way -- about their ability to one day play in the NHL.

Every prospect tries to look confident. Some just have a certain self-assurance, a Chris Pronger-like "Of course, I belong here" feel to him.

That look, that composure, was present in recent years with players like Sidney Crosby, Dion Phaneuf, Rick Nash and Luke Schenn.

Alex Chiasson is NHL Central Scouting's No. 34-ranked North American skater for the 2009 Entry Draft, but he has the same kind of look. He's a big, husky player who can score and use his 6-foot-4, 187-pound body to his advantage at both ends of the ice. Think Mike Knuble, another nice, thoughtful person off the ice who gets where he wants to go on the ice.

"Alex shows a real strong competitiveness and willingness to go to the net," said Central Scouting's Jack Barzee. "He takes the hit to make the play, yet at the same time can stickhandle in a telephone booth and find the open man. Night in, night out, he comes to play -- the effort is always there."

Chiasson would have been a first-round pick in the 2007 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft, but the Montreal native was honest with QMJHL clubs when he told them he planned to play in the United States Hockey League to maintain his NCAA eligibility. Chiasson played at the Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y., in 2007-08 and for the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL this past season, when he had 17 goals and 33 assists in 56 games.

Chiasson will attend Boston University this fall, and both Chiasson and coach Jack Parker expect him to step right into the national champion's lineup.

"BU is a hard offensive team and that's the way I see myself," Chiasson said. "I define myself as a power forward. I like hitting, going hard to the net and I love scoring goals. That's what coach Parker wants me to come and do, and make an impact as a freshman."

Chiasson's parents are well-educated professionals -- chartered accountants -- and they raised a straight-arrow son who understands the importance of an education.

"My parents (Serge and Marilyn) are models for me," said Chiasson. "They stop me a lot and show me how life goes. As much as I care about hockey, when I go home I have to do my homework, study and get ready for the next day in school. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am right now. I can't thank them enough for what they did.

"When I was younger I was an 'A' student. I chose college for studies and because I thought it was the best thing for me in hockey at the same time. You never know what's going to happen after hockey, whether you're not good enough or something bad happens."

Chiasson, a big-city boy, looked at all his options and chose another big city -- Boston.

"It was the best decision for me," said Chiasson. "Boston University hockey -- what can I say? What a great team they had this year, national champions. It's a great team with great coaching. It's an amazing atmosphere at the school. It's the best fit for me. I visited for three days in October, visited the rink and hung out with the guys. I fell in love with it.

"(Trainer) Mike Boyle is there and he's known around the world for what he's done with hockey players. It was a big decision, but at the end it's the best thing for me. I met Mike -- he's pretty intense for a little guy. He has character and leadership. He's one of the main reasons that I'm going there."

Chiasson now has two years of living away from home in two different environments. He wasn't far from home at Northwood, and the team did well. Des Moines was different, as he was significantly farther from home, and the Bucs finished with the second-fewest points in the league. Chiasson said he learned a lot from both experiences.

"Alex shows a real strong competitiveness and willingness to go to the net. He takes the hit to make the play, yet at the same time can stickhandle in a telephone booth and find the open man. Night in, night out, he comes to play -- the effort is always there."
-- Jack Barzee

"I was a senior in high school this year and I had good grades," Chiasson said. "I had straight A's two years ago at Northwood but I had B's and A's this year. I had to work a little harder in class because there was only four classes a day and sometimes I'd be gone for a couple of days because of hockey. It was different, but I did well."

He had to work harder on the ice, as well.

"I was used to success when I was younger," Chiasson said. "This year was hard with the losing. When you are losing, you're not focusing on doing the right thing -- you're trying to find solutions and sometimes that takes you away from your game. It was good it happened to me. It showed me things aren't going to be easy all the time. You have to work hard through it and do the best you can do.

"It showed me more than hockey. It showed me about life, too. Life isn't easy. You have to finish what you start and you have to work hard at it."

Going through growth spurts, Chiasson was ungainly at times on his skates. His skating is the biggest obstacle to potential success, but his coach in Des Moines -- former NHL player J.P. Parise -- said Chiasson is committed to overcoming it.

"Alex Chiasson is a big player, he has tremendous size," Parise said. "Right now he is somewhat heavy-footed but has shown vast improvement since the beginning of the season and therefore his quickness has improved and is evident on the ice and in his statistics. He's got a competitive attitude and has great potential as a professional hockey player."

"Maybe my skating is above-average," said Chiasson, "but if I want to make it to the NHL, I have to work on it this summer and get a better stride and more strength in my legs. That's what makes you a good hockey player and I'll make sure it goes well for me."

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