Leavitt Proves Payne Right

By Len Bardsley
NHL.com Correspondent
Mar. 3, 2006

Alex Leavitt or Davis Payne? It’s tough to determine who had more confidence Leavitt was going to be a success with the Alaska Aces during his rookie season, the player or coach, Payne.

The nod may have to go to Payne.

Payne felt a player with a background in an NCAA Division I program like Wisconsin, along with good junior numbers on a team coached by Kevin Constantine, would probably fit in well with the Aces’ style.

Leavitt is having more than a little success with the Aces. The 22-year-old forward from Edmonton leads all rookies with 18 goals and 52 assists in 55 games. Leavitt is third overall in the ECHL in scoring behind Garrett Bembridge of the Idaho Steelheads and Aces teammate Mike Scott.

“I knew of him late last spring,” Payne said. “We knew his agent and the program he came out of. We knew he was a guy we would like to have.”

Payne knew right were to put Leavitt on his roster of talented forwards.

“He has played most of the year with Mike Scott and Chris Minard or Joe Talbot,” Payne said. “They are good bookends for a young center. He has confidence in his abilities and the confidence to make plays. He has the knack to handle the puck for a little longer to have the play open up. For a young guy, he has really good skill and good composure.”

The Aces and Payne felt like a good match for Leavitt.

“He talked to me and laid out where he thought the team was going and it looked like a good fit,” Leavitt said. “I had a number of friends I played junior with who were familiar with teams in the league. Once I started getting recruited I did a little more research and anyone I talked too had nothing but good things to say about the Aces.”

Leavitt’s passing skills and skating ability, along with the finishing skills of his linemates make for a perfect combination on the Aces’ big ice surface at Sullivan Arena.

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