BY ED WRIGHT
Jan. 7, 2010, 5:10 p.m.
The passion for hockey that flows through Austin Levi's veins was instilled in the mid-1990's while he lived in Colorado watching one of the Detroit Red Wings' biggest rivals win an NHL Stanley Cup.
His passion for the puck has grown along with the 17-year-old's tall, strong, slender frame. At 6-foot-4 and blessed with finely-honed skills, Levi is projected to be drafted in the early rounds of June's NHL Draft in Los Angeles.
The Plymouth High School student, who now calls Canton home, spent a few moments before a recent practice answering questions from PlymouthCantonSports.com.
ED WRIGHT: How did you get into hockey?
AUSTIN LEVI: I grew up in Colorado, so I got into hockey when I was about 4 or 5 watching the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in 1996. I started playing competitive ice hockey when I was about 8.
EW: What is it that appeals to you about the sport?
AL: I love everything about hockey, I really do. I like how tough it is. I like how intense you have to be to play it
how much skill it takes to really play the game right.
EW: How would you describe your game?
AL: I'm a stay-at-home defenseman who like to move the puck out of the zone; I like to make the first pass out before I focus on offense. I like to take care of my defensive responsibilities before anything else.
EW: Do you remember your first OHL goal?
AL: Oh yeah! It was the seventh goal against Sarnia. I don't remember a lot about it as it was actually happening; it was kind of an out-of-body experience. When I watch the replay, it's kind of astounding that it was me. Sometimes you have to let your body take over and not think too much, and that's what I did on that play.
EW: How cool is it to be an NHL prospect?
AL: It's exciting. I don't want to get ahead of myself or anything, though. I'm just going to keep my feet on the ground and stayed focused on playing well this season.
EW: Where will you be for the draft?
AL: I'm planning on going to the draft. It's in L.A. this year.
EW: Is there an NHL player you emulate?
AL: I love watching Lidstrom play. He knows exactly what he's going to do with the puck before he even gets it. I like watching him.
EW: What's your second-half-of-the-season forecast for the Whalers this season?
AL: I think we're really going to make a run for it. I think once we get everybody back from injury and everything else, coach Vellucci is going to get us playing well and I think we can make a strong run in the playoffs. Everybody in that locker room wants another championship and I think we can do it."
EW: Who have you learned the most about hockey from?
AL: (long pause) Probably a coach in Colorado by the name of Tom Smith, who was one of my pee-wee coaches. He was there for most of my developing years and he's the one who motivated me to play junior hockey.
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