College kid happy to be in T.O.

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Robbie Earl was born in Chicago and grew up with his grandparents in Los Angeles but he wants nothing more than to make an impression in Toronto.

The Maple Leafs announced yesterday they've signed the 20-year-old Earl, a sixth-round pick by the club in 2004, to a three-year entry-level contract.

"I had a pretty good college career so I thought it was time to make that next step, and I am very excited," Earl said last night during the first intermission of the Leafs-Ottawa Senators game at the Air Canada Centre. "To be able to do what I did in college, hopefully I can translate it to the professional game."

Though he said he had not been told as much, Earl is scheduled to be in the Toronto Marlies lineup for their game today against the Syracuse Crunch.

Earl, a left winger, was instrumental as the University of Wisconsin Badgers won their first NCAA championship since 1990. He was named the most outstanding player in the Frozen Four tournament, which culminated in a 2-1 Badgers win against Boston College on April 8. Earl, who had 24 goals to lead the Badgers in that category for the second year in a row, is the career Wisconsin leader in points with 121.

Earl was a sociology major and had a year to go before graduation. Growing up in Los Angeles, Earl said he was a Kings fan.

"I grew up watching (Wayne) Gretzky when he came in and I enjoyed watching the Kings," Earl said. "I remember the Montreal series (in 1993, when the Kings lost in the Stanley Cup final to Montreal)."

ROOKIES LEARN

Both Ian White and Ben Ondrus will have plenty to take back to the Marlies for the playoffs.

Ondrus played in his 20th NHL game last night, White his 10th.

"The past five or 10 games, they've really taught me about positional play, that you can't really run and make that big hit," Ondrus said. "Everything I have learned, how to stay patient and control your emotions, hopefully it can help (the Marlies) win."

White said he has benefitted greatly from being paired with veteran Luke Richardson.

Ondrus hasn't recorded a point while White has a goal and six points.


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