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Boyle living his dream as an NHLer

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
The journey from youth hockey to the NHL is a long one. Only a tiny fraction of kids who start out with dreams of playing at the game's highest level actually get there. Each of the roughly 700 current NHL players has his own, unique story about the road to hockey's top league, and for Rangers fans, none are more interesting than those involving current Blueshirts.

Road to the Rangers on, takes readers back in time, giving them a sense of what players went through to make it. Hear the player's story in his own words, in his own voice, as he looks back at all the years leading up to his first NHL game. Get a feel for each player's personality as he talks about unpublicized moments that helped him realize the dream of every young hockey player.

Girardi | Callahan

Brian Boyle Brian Boyle
For roughly 40 years, the Boston area has been a prime source of NHL talent, largely due to the influence of Bobby Orr, whose arrival on the Boston sports scene in the late 1960s inspired future generations to take up hockey instead of other sports. Dozens of NHL players trace their hockey roots to Boston. Many grew up there, while others played either prep-school or college hockey in the area.

Rangers center Brian Boyle is a Boston thoroughbred, having achieved the triple crown of hockey in that city. Boyle, who turns 25 on Friday, was a youth hockey star in Hingham, Mass., a prep hockey star at St. Sebastian's School in Needham, Mass., and an NCAA star at Boston College. Along the way, he also became a top NHL prospect and first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings.

Brian BoyleBoyle's road to the Rangers wasn't a direct route -- since he came to New York as part of a draft-day trade with Los Angeles last June -- but his road to the NHL was a storybook journey built on determination and hard work. Motivated from his earliest years by an extreme passion for the sport, he was one of 13 children whose love of hockey exceeded his siblings' to the point where he was always the last one off the ice or the first one looking to get others to play. He had a height advantage, too, since Boyle was 6-foot-5 by his 18th birthday and reached 6-7 by the time he stopped growing.

That tremendous size alone would have made Boyle an intriguing pro prospect, but his work-ethic was what made him a great player in both high school and college. At St. Sebastian's he was the top scorer and MVP of the Independent School league and an All-New England prep player in his senior year of 2002-03. He capped off that magical season of 32 goals and 63 points in 31 games by winning the Boston Bruins' 2003 John Carlton Memorial Trophy, given annually to the top student-athlete among hockey players in Eastern Massachusetts. That prestigious Boston award includes former Ranger Ted Donato and Major League baseball star Tom Glavine among its other winners.

On the heels of his big season, the NHL's Central Scouting service ranked Boyle 34th overall among all prospects for the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. His report was a glowing one, calling him a "strong skater with very good agility and quickness in tight going, especially for a big player." The scouting report also noted that Boyle had an "excellent shot, both slap and wrist, which he gets on goal quickly and accurately." Scouts projected Boyle as a goal-scorer at the NHL level who would create a lot of traffic in front of the net.

Los Angeles chose Boyle 26th overall in the first round, but his heart was already set on Boston College, forcing the Kings to wait nearly four years for his services. During his college career, Boyle won two Hockey East championships and went to two NCAA title games with the Eagles, serving as captain of the 2006-07 team that lost to Michigan State in the national championship game at St. Louis. He turned professional right after the NCAA Frozen Four, and within a year, he was playing his first NHL games.

Scouts who raved about Boyle's scoring ability were not disappointed when he broke through to the NHL. Boyle is one of the few NHL players who can boast scoring a goal in his first NHL game, which he did for the Kings on Feb. 2, 2008, at New Jersey. Three nights later, in his second NHL game against the Rangers at MSG, Boyle scored again to give Los Angeles a 2-0 lead en route to a 4-2 win.

Boyle made such an impression on the Rangers that they jumped at the chance to acquire him from the Kings for a 2010 third-round draft pick. His road to the Rangers was a circuitous one, but it was worth the wait for both parties.

Here is Boyle's story, in his own words:

Click on the links below to hear Boyle (Windows Media Player is required)
PART 1: Developing an early passion for the game of hockey.
PART 2: Beginning to dream of one day becoming an NHL player.
PART 3: Progressing from youth hockey up to St. Sebastian's.
PART 4: The draft year and setting sights on Boston College.
PART 5: Draft day memories, further development in college.
PART 6: Boyle's first game as a pro with Manchester in AHL.
PART 7: Memories of first training camp and 2007-08 season.
PART 8: Getting called up to Kings, playing first NHL game.
PART 9: Boyle's first game as an NHL player at The Garden.

Brian Boyle Brian Boyle Brian Boyle
Being drafted by Kings on June 21, 2003.
MVP of 2005 Hockey East tournament.
Competing in the 2007 NCAA title game.
Brian Boyle Brian Boyle
Celebrating his first NHL goal at New Jersey on Feb. 2, 2008.
Playing in his first game with the Rangers on Oct. 2, 2009.
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