Two Friends Pursue NHL Dream

Oh Canada
Karen L. Ding

Quebec natives Alex Killorn, left, and Louis Leblanc, right, developed a close friendship while playing together at Harvard two seasons ago. Now, Leblanc, currently playing in the NHL, serves as an inspiration for Killorn as he enters the heart of his senior season with the Crimson.

Growing up in Montreal together, Alex Killorn and Louis Leblanc shared a dream.

Both played hockey in a city enamored with the sport, grew up rooting for the hometown Canadiens, and had the ultimate goal of one day donning NHL jerseys of their own.

The pair knew each other through hockey circles for much of their childhoods. Both played for the Lac St-Louis Lions of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before Leblanc took his game to Omaha, Neb. to play in the USHL, where he was an All-Star.

After winning the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge as a member of Team Quebec in 2006—Leblanc would do the same two years later—Killorn was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third round (77th overall) of the 2007 NHL Draft.

He decided to attend Harvard before joining the Lightning organization, and finished third on the team in scoring as a freshman during the 2008-09 season.

In June 2009, Leblanc was taken in the first round (18th overall) of the NHL Draft—which was held in Montreal—by the hometown Canadiens. That meant that one day, the center would have the chance to play for the team that he and Killorn had grown up cheering for.

But until then, Leblanc decided to join his fellow Quebecer at Harvard, also believing college hockey would provide him with valuable experience before turning pro.

It was in Cambridge that the friendship between the two Canadian hockey stars would grow stronger.

“I’ve known Louis probably my whole life,” Killorn says. “[But] once we got to Harvard, played on the line together, and got to know each other better, we became even better friends.”

During the 2009-10 season, both displayed the skills that had made them NHL draft picks. Leblanc led the team in points (23), goals (11), and finished second in assists (12) while winning Ivy Rookie of the Year; Killorn finished just three points, two goals, and one assist behind.

At the end of the season, Leblanc was ready to begin his professional career, leaving Killorn and his other teammates and forfeiting his remaining three years of NCAA eligibility to sign a three-year contract with the Canadiens.

The center joined the Montreal Junior Hockey Club for the 2010-11 season, and, upon turning 20 at the year’s conclusion, turned pro, joining the American Hockey League.

With Leblanc gone, Killorn emerged as Harvard’s star, leading the Crimson with 15 goals and finishing second on the team with 29 points as a junior. While he did so, he kept an eye of the progress of his friend, who registered three points and the game-winning overtime goal in his first professional contest with the Hamilton Bulldogs, a 3-2 win over the Rochester Americans and another former teammate, Alex Biega ’10, on Oct. 27.

This year, Killorn, now an assistant captain, has continued to shine at the Bright Hockey Center, leading the squad with six goals through 10 contests.

Meanwhile, Leblanc has taken his game to a whole new level, achieving the pair’s childhood aspiration of reaching the NHL.

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