'Frat Pack' impressing Wilson

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

After many rejected nicknames, the winner came to Christian Hanson in a flash after he and Ryan Bozak and Viktor Stalberg just completed another high-energy shift.

"The Frat Pack," Hanson said proudly. "You know, like Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.

"We hadn't come up with a good one yet. That's your job (the media). Maybe we should hold a contest."

Call them what you will -- a Sun reader suggested Highway 86 in honour of their shared birth year -- the Maple Leafs trio of NCAA grads has been one of the delights of camp for coach Ron Wilson.

They mesh nicely on the ice: Bozak's creativity at centre, Stalberg's blinding speed, and Hanson's size and reach in close quarters. They also live together downtown, spending time at the movies or battling each other at computer hockey games.

"I always beat Viktor," Bozak boasted.

Bozak is Canadian (Regina), and Stalberg is Swedish, but they attended school in Denver and Vermont, with Pennsylvania-born Hanson making his own name at Notre Dame, after his father Dave's Slap Shot notoriety.

"We're having a great time right now, trying to enjoy the moment," Stalberg said.

Dubbed the Swedish Rocket for his 24 goals in 39 games with the Catamounts, Stalberg had taken a stab at naming the line, too.

"We had The College Kids. and Highway 86 isn't a bad one, but I'm sure there'll be a few more coming up as we go along. Whatever works for the media is perfect by us. We've been too busy trying to make the team."

NOT ENOUGH ROOM

Wilson likely can't move them all up together this season, with Niklas Hagman, Mikhail Grabovski, Matt Stajan, Jason Blake, Nikolai Kulemin, John Mitchell, Alexei Ponikarovsky and eventually Phil Kessel likely to be placed among the top three lines. But their mere presence has pushed all of the above.

"Whether they make it now, or next month or whatever, we've really upgraded," Wilson said. "They allowed us to make the deal to get Kessel (by adding depth)."

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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