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Leclerc Steps In and Leads the Ducks

September 19, 1996|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Mighty Ducks are saving a spot on that line with Teemu Selanne and Jari Kurri for Paul Kariya.

But Kariya isn't playing during the exhibition season because of an abdominal muscle injury, and Mike Leclerc was the lucky stand-in Wednesday night.

Coach Ron Wilson put Leclerc, 19, with Kurri and Selanne, and Leclerc scored two goals and assisted on a third during the Ducks' 4-1 exhibition victory over the New York Rangers before an announced crowd of 15,532 at the Pond of Anaheim.

Never mind that the Ranger lineup didn't include Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, Brian Leetch, Luc Robitaille or Mike Richter.

"Mike had a tremendous advantage," Wilson said. "He was playing with two great hockey players. He's got a knack for scoring. He had it in junior hockey and he was in the right place at the right time tonight and jumped on some rebounds. He was probably a little nervous, to look up and be playing with Teemu Selanne and Jari Kurri."

Leclerc, a third-round pick in the 1995 draft, had 111 points with a remarkable eight hat tricks in 71 games last season playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Western Hockey League. He drew the line assignment as a reward.

"I was pretty excited when they posted the lineup," he said. "I used to sit and watch Jari on TV. It was a great feeling."

Duck defenseman Fredrik Olausson also had two goals and an assist. Ulf Samuelsson scored the Rangers' only goal with 35 seconds left.

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