Sifers makes his mark

STEVE BUFFERY

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

Rookie defenceman Jaime Sifers played more than 21 minutes in Friday's 2-1 win over the Sabres in Buffalo, the second most minutes of anyone on the team, save for his defence partner Jeff Finger, who played almost 24.

Sifers also led all Leafs with three hits, of the 14 recorded.

And while Sifers isn't the biggest defenceman on the ice, standing 5-foot-11, he certainly doesn't lack in toughness and strength.

"He's bigger than you think. He looks small, but he's at least 210 if not 215. He's ripped," head coach Ron Wilson said. "And it was nice to see him have the confidence to step up on people like he did."

Wilson went down to see the Marlies play on Nov. 26 prior to the Leafs leaving for Ottawa, in search of a forward. The Leafs came away with rugged winger Andre Deveaux, but Wilson said the best player on the ice for the Marlies was Sifers.

"That's the old scouting story: You went looking for one thing and you found something else," said Wilson. "I wasn't impressed with anybody and we took Andre Deveaux. But the guy who impressed me the most that night, and we didn't need a defenceman, was Jaime."

The Leafs brought Sifers up for a three-game Western Conference swing in the first week of December. And while he didn't play, he did practise with the team and get to know Wilson's system. And when fellow rookie Luke Schenn got hurt last Saturday, Sifers had his chance.

"What I like about him is his quickness. What I noticed about him, killing penalties, you could really see a difference of how quickly he closed down on people in the corner and got to loose pucks. And you could see that (Friday night) against Buffalo," Wilson said.

TOUGH DECISION

Leafs callup Jeremy Williams had a decision to make when he was about 13 -- concentrate on competitive rodeo, or hockey.

"I needed to stick to one sport and I was playing summer hockey so I chose hockey," he said. "I think my dad was disappointed at the time, but I don't think he's very disappointed now."

Rodeo was big on the Williams farm in Glenavon, Sask.


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