Boyce's return is short

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- Centre Darryl Boyce started his National Hockey League career last night as "a big, friggin' ball of emotion" and ended it on the injured list with three other Maple Leaf shoulder mishaps.

Boyce was called up from the Marlies to replace Alexei Ponikarovsky, who suffered a dislocation the night before and will be lost six weeks. A Maritimer unearthed by John Ferguson from the seldom scouted University of New Brunswick, Boyce was a plus-18 with the AHL Marlies and was ready to rock last night.

But he caught a rut in the Verizon Center ice when he went to hit a Capitals defenceman, crashing into the boards.

"With all this adrenaline, I can go for another game," he said, jokingly. "I'm not in too much pain now. It's tough to say how bad it is."

He couldn't lift his arm to adjust his collar after the game and coach Paul Maurice called it a "significant" injury, which could mean a separation.

Boyce was the last personnel move Ferguson made before being fired as GM, getting called up last Friday, but not playing in New Jersey, then became Cliff Fletcher's first callup.

OPENINGS AT FORWARD

With first-line winger Alex Steen out at least a week with a shoulder injury from a thundering Milan Jurcina hit in the first period last night, Maurice will have to look at reinstating Kyle Wellwood, Wade Belak or another Marlie on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues.

Ponikarovsky's chance to impress Fletcher ended early in the first period the night before when Washington's Steve Eminger boarded the winger and dislocated his shoulder.

Boyce, 23, is unique in many ways, a Prince Edward Islander who played a year of Tier 2 junior in Parry Sound and then four seasons for the OHL St. Michael's Majors. He played the last two seasons at UNB, as much a breeding of NHLers as Yellowknife is for surfers.

"With the road I took to get here, it was a thrill," Boyce said of squeezing three minutes of ice time into last night's 2-1 loss to the Caps.

The Leafs hope defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo's knee injury will be closer to recovery after the all-star break ends. He plans to work out all weekend and practice with the team Monday.


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