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FUTURE WATCH | Joey LaLeggia

by Ashley Docking / Edmonton Oilers

“Work ethic and passion will take you places in hockey.”

An attitude Joey LaLeggia inherited from his dad.

Photo by Getty Images.

The bonafide NCAA star is enjoying his final year with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's University of Denver Pioneers.  He’s working toward claiming an NCAA title to end his colligate career, but reflects on the people and memories that influenced the start of his journey towards the NHL.

“The first hockey memory that I have is being taken to my first NHL hockey game, at home in Vancouver with my dad.  I was three or four. I think they were playing the Maple Leafs and I just remember my dad telling me about different players and telling me what to chant,” laughs LaLeggia, elaborating that his dad’s love of the game hasn’t waned.

“His passion for hockey is so evident, he still plays men's league.  He claims he's going to be playing until he's 80. It's something that he's passed down to me.” 

His penchant for athletics didn’t come solely from his dad. Mrs. LaLeggia can take full credit for adding to her son’s athleticism.

“My mom was a track star in high school, but now she says she doesn't like to run so I guess things have changed in her life,” LaLeggia said.

For the AHCA West Second Team All-American, a change is not an option.

“I’ve never wanted to do anything else with my life,” he said. “Being at college you get introduced to so many other careers and paths, but nothing comes close.” 

Since stepping onto the NCAA Division I scene, LaLeggia’s made an impact.  In his first season at Denver, the Oilers 2012 fifth-round pick scored 11 goals and 38 total points in 43 games.  As a result, the Hockey Commissioners’ Association appointed him the 2012 Division I Rookie of the Year. 

The accolades didn’t end there; the d-man has been given multiple First and Second Team honours in each of his three years of university.  Additionally, LaLeggia was the inaugural recipient of the NCHC awards for Defenceman of the Year and Offensive Defenceman of the Year. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Courtesy: Edmonton Oilers / Andy Devlin

While it was his parents who lit the fire in LaLeggia to start down the hockey path, it’s long-time friends who share his passion of the game that really drive him to be successful.
“I have learned from Ryan (Nugent-Hopkins). It's great to have someone so close who's up in the system, who experiences the NHL on a regular basis,” LaLeggia said of his long-time friend.

“He's given me a lot of insight on what to expect if I get there, and having a friend like that who plays in NHL gives you motivation to want to get there, especially to have the opportunity to play on his team.”

It’s not always teammates that influence players. For LaLeggia, a Stanley Cup winning, Canadian Olympic gold medalist had a big effect on him.  

“Duncan Keith is a guy I like to model my game after,” LaLeggia said. “He played junior hockey in Penticton for the same place I did (the BCHL’s Penticton Vee’s, formerly the Panthers).  He plays in all situations. He's one of the best defenceman in the NHL.”  

And he even got the opportunity for a face to face. 

“I met him at a charity game in Penticton when I was playing junior hockey,” LaLeggia said, “It was right after he won the Stanley Cup and had gotten all his teeth knocked out, so he was telling me about going through all of that.”

On the topic of teeth, we had to ask, have any fakes?

“I have all my teeth still,” LaLeggia said. “We have cages in college so it's not so much of a worry right now,  but maybe next year!”

Hockey players are the only people in the world that would look forward to losing a few jibs, but I digress. In this case, no cage could mean a promotion for LaLeggia, who will graduate university at the end of this year and look to join the pro ranks.

Before he leaves, the top defender of the Pioneers has some unfinished business to take care of.  

“We went to the NCAA tournament, but we lost in the first round.  So it was a good season, but it wasn't good enough.”

Last season, the Pioneers (20-15-6) captured the inaugural NCHC Tournament title and with it an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, marking the eighth-straight year the school has qualified for the National Tournament.

“We have a very experienced team this year,” LaLeggia said. “We have a very big senior class with seven of us, which we haven't had since winning the National Championship in 2005 (the second consecutive year of back-to-back supremacy).”

With a plethora of awards in tow, an NHL influence in his day-to-day life and a tremendous amount of family support, LaLeggia has everything he needs, except maybe a Hobey Baker Award?

The Oilers prospect is in the running, to succeed Johnny Gaudreau as the next recipient of the most prestigious award in hockey, the Hobey Baker Award.  You can #VoteForJoey HERE.

The Pioneers sit at 11-7-1. LaLeggia has six goals and 11 assists through 18 games and he looks to lead his team to another winning season, starting with a back-to-back series against St. Cloud State,  January 16-17.

Barons Player StatsAHL StandingsBarons Schedule | Past Prospect Stats: 13-14 | 12-13 | 11-12


Stats Updated as of Wednesday, January 14, 2015  | * - Player on AHL contract with Oklahoma City Barons

Oklahoma City (AHL)


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
KEITH AULIE D 25 8 0 1 1 -6 0
BRANDON DAVIDSON D 23 25 2 4 6 +11 24
TRAVIS EWANYK F 21 35 1 2 3 -13 50
MATT FORD* F 30 35 11 13 24 -1 12
MARTIN GERNAT d 21 31 0 4 4 +2 20
LUKE GAZDIC F 25 5 2 0 2 -1 7
CURTIS HAMILTON
F 22 32 7 11 18 +4 21
RYAN HAMILTON
F 29 30 14 11 25 +8 6
BRAD HUNT D 26 24 7 17 24 +5 6
CONNOR JONES*
F 24 10 2 1 3 -1 2
KELLEN JONES*
F 24 11 2 2 4 -3 0
KALE KESSY
F 21 17 3 3 6 -7 61
JUJHAR KHAIRA
F 20 33 1 4 5 -4 39
OSCAR KLEFBOM   d 21 9 1 7 8 +10 4
ANTON LANDER
F 23 29 9 22 31 +8 20
KELLAN LAIN F 25 2 0 0 0 0 4
C.J. LUDWIG* D 24 13 1 2 3 -1 24
MARTIN MARINCIN
D 22 20 0 3 3 -4 12
ANDREW MILLER F 26 36 13 17 30 +7 4
MITCH MOROZ F 20 28 0 2 2 -4 45
DAVID MUSIL D 21 32 1 3 4 -4 21
JORDAN OESTERLE  D 22 37 5 13 18 -4 6
IIRO PAKARINEN F 23 32 13 9 22 +14 16
STEVE PINIZZOTTO
F 30 11 1 8 9 +4 42
TYLER PITLICK
F 23 14 3 6 9 +2 8
DILLON SIMPSON
d 21 34 2 7 9 +5 4
JASON WILLIAMS*
F 34 35 14 19 33 0 22
BOGDAN YAKIMOV
F 20 33 3 10 13 +3 12
JOSH WINQUIST*
F 18 15 4 4 8 +4 4
Bakersfield (ECHL)
Name POS age    GP G A P +/- PIM
GRAEME CRAIG* D 21 32 4 3 7 0 35
CONNOR JONES* F 24 27 10 16 26 +3 29
KELLEN JONES* F 24 27 7 18 25 +3 12
C.J. LUDWIG* D 24 12 1 7 8 -2 7
JOSH WINQUIST* F 21 18 5 18 23 -6 11
Canadian Hockey League
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
BEN BETKER   d 20 36 3 12 15 +14 37 EVERETT (WHL)
GREG CHASE  C 19 15 2 13 15 +2 20 CALGARY (WHL)
18 7 14 21 -1 13 victoria (whl)
LEON DRAISAITL
f 19 3 3 1 4 -2 0 KELOWNA (WHL)
JACKSON HOUCK
f 19 37 14 18 32 +5 46 VANCOUVER (WHL)
DARNELL NURSE D 19 21 7 14 21 +7 36 SAULT STE. MARIE (OHL)
KYLE PLATZER F 19 38 19 29 48 +10 28 OWEN SOUND (OHL)
MARCO ROY
F 20 34 18 14 32 +4 22 QUEBEC (qmjHL)
NCAA, Junior A & USHL
Name POS age  GP G A P +/- PIM team
EVAN CAMPBELL   f 21 19 6 11 17 +9 19 UMASS-LOWELL (NCAA)
LIAM COUGHLIN
F 20 39 16 32 48 0 18 VERNON (BCHL)
WILLIAM LAGESSON
d 18 23 1 11 12 +10 50 DUBUQUE (USHL)
JOEY LALEGGIA  d 22 18 6 10 16 +3 29 DENVER (NCAA)
JOHN MCCARRON   f 22 15 0 5 5 -3 22 CORNELL (NCAA)
AIDAN MUIR   F 19 19 4 5 9 +7 2 WESTERN MICHIGAN (NCAA)
TYLER VESEL F 20 22 4 10 14 +8 0 NEBRASKA-OMAHA (NCAA)
Europe
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
ROMAN HORAK
f 23 42 18 12 30 -2 20 VITYAZ (KHL)
PHILIP LARSEN
f 24 42 2 14 16 -12 22 YUGRA (KHL)
ANTON SLEPYSHEV
f 20 45 9 7 16 -2 8 UFA (KHL)
ANTTI TYRVAINEN
F 25 34 5 6 11 -5 48 TAMPERE (FINLAND)
DANIIL ZHARKOV
F 20 8 0 0 0 +2 4 NIZHNY NOVGOROD (KHL)
28 1 3 4 -10 14 HK SAROV (VHL)
2015 World Junior Hockey Championships
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
DARNELL NURSE
D 19 7 0 1 1 +8 6 CANADA
WILLIAM LAGESSON
D 18 7 0 1 1 +1 8 SWEDEN
Goaltenders
Name age GP w l T SO GAA SV% team
RICHARD BACHMAN   27 18 11 3 3   1 2.20 .925 OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)
KEVEN BOUCHARD  18 24 7 10 4   0 4.27 .856 VAL D'OR (QMJHL)
LAURENT BROSSOIT 21 20 13 5 0   1 2.43 .922 OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)
TYLER BUNZ   22 14 6 7 1   2 2.38 .910 wichita (ECHL)
ZACHARY NAGELVOORT
20 14 7 6 0   0 2.83 .903 MICHIGAN (NCAA)
TY RIMMER*
22 23 8 10 2   1 3.19 .891 BAKERSFIELD (ECHL)
Frans Tuohimaa   23 18 8 6 2   0 2.95 .892 BAKERSFIELD (ECHL)
3 2 0 1   0 4.22 .904 OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)

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