Leafs Camp Special For All Kids
Friday, 07.8.2011 / 5:12 PM ET / News
By Matt Iaboni - Mapleleafs.com online producer
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Friday marked the final day of the first week of the Maple Leafs Hockey School presented by Rogers. It just wasn’t any day for the youngsters who have been honing their skills all week long at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence. In front of family and friends, the kids put their new skills on display in game action along with Leafs prospects Tyler Biggs, Stuart Percy and Tyler Brenner.
It wasn’t long ago that the three aspiring Leafs were in the same position looking up to their heroes at a summer hockey camp having experiences that are unforgettable.
“I remember one guy, Felix Potvin came out to one of our practices in Oakville and that was pretty cool,” said Percy. “I remember getting my gloves signed by him and I still have that back at home.”
There is no other hockey school in the world that can say the Vezina and Conn Smythe trophies are present when the awards are handed out at the end of the week like they are at this camp.
“These are special kids and we put them in a unique environment because we can and at the end of the day we just want the kids to love the game of hockey on and off the ice,” said Greg Schell, coordinator of youth hockey development for the Leafs camp.
Biggs, Percy and Brenner were just a few of the Leafs who stopped by this week. Clarke MacArthur, Luca Caputi, Jonas Gustavsson and Leafs legend Wendel Clark all spent time at the camp.
“The kids are just loving everything about this and the game of hockey,” Schell said. “Having a guy like Clarke MacArthur come out, they think they can skate as fast as him. It’s pretty cool."
This wasn’t the first time that Biggs has done something like this. Growing up in Cincinnati he was an instructor at his Dad’s hockey school.
“My Dad doesn’t do them anymore but it was fun and it was the same way here” he said. “With it being the last day, you just want to relax and have fun out there.”
Brenner attended camps in the summer but he can’t believe the opportunity that these kids will get over the next two weeks to have pro hockey players on the ice with them.
“I never had the chance to skate with pro players,” he said. “It’s pretty neat that they get to do that for them and for us too.”
One player who has enjoyed every moment not just this week but the previous two times he has attended is Austin Curley a defenceman for the Vaughan Panthers minor peewee A team.
“It’s really cool to have these guys here,” he said between shifts. “They are going to be on the Leafs soon so it’s really good to see them now.”
While young Austin might still be too young to realize some of the people he has met over his three years, his Dad, Frank, is definitely aware of who has been there.
“It’s impressive,” Frank said. “I’m from the Wendel Clark era and over the years we’ve seen Cliff Fletcher, Johnny Bower… it’s been a treat for me.”
Perhaps in a few years Austin might be the one that kids look up to.