By Justin Dunk
There is lots of hockey talent in the Leslie family.
Ron and Ann Leslie spent countless hours driving from rink to rink while raising four children. Zac, a defencemen with the Guelph Storm, is the oldest and next in line is Rebecca, a freshman forward at Boston University. The two elder siblings have shown younger sisters Kathryn and Grace – one plays hockey and the other ringette – that goals on the ice or in anything else they may have a passion for are possible.
Every winter from as far back as the children can remember an outdoor rink was made at the Leslie residence by their dad. Ron spent hours in the backyard putting up boards, flooding the ice and making sure the surface was perfectly flat.
“I can’t remember a winter not having one up until I was 16 years old,” Rebecca, now 18, said. “We were just too busy with hockey – practices, games and tournaments – at that point that we literally would’ve never used it. So that’s when my dad stopped making it.”
Growing up Zac and Rebecca had many one-on-one showdowns on their homemade ice pad. Rebecca always wanted to keep up with her older brother. And if the Leslie’s weren’t lacing up the skates on their homemade ice pad, they were at the arena.
“I used to spend every single weekend watching Zac, it was just a habit,” Rebecca said. “Watching him I thought maybe I could play.”
Indeed she could, too. Rebecca started playing with boys and eventually she switched over to girls teams. Zac and Rebecca never played on the same team, but that didn’t stop brother and sister from helping each other improve.
“It was really nice to have a brother that I could look up to,” Rebecca said. “Every summer when he was home we would go to work with the skating coach together and do shooting drills.”
Zac went on to be drafted by the Storm and he has turned into a talented defenceman. One so highly thought of that the Los Angeles Kings selected Zac in the sixth round of the 2013 NHL Draft and just recently the organization signed him to a three-year entry level contract.
“Zac accomplishing those things made me say maybe I can do things like play for Team Canada and get an NCAA scholarship. He really motivated me,” Rebecca said.
So she went out and worked towards her lofty goals. Rebecca earned the opportunity to compete for Team Canada this past March at the 2014 IIHF World Women’s U18 Championship. She recorded five points, two goals and three assists, in five games helping Canada bring home the gold medal.
After coming off the high of playing for her country, Rebecca entered her freshman year at Boston University this fall. She went on lots of official visits to many NCAA schools offering scholarships to play hockey and ended up deciding to play for the Terriers. Zac went through the same experience, looking at NCAA options before deciding to enter the OHL. So he knew exactly what his sister was going through.
“At this point the NCAA or Canadian university route is the best option for women playing hockey,” Zac said.
“It took a while for me to decide and he helped me through a hard decision,” Rebecca said.
And Zac is a strong believer in his sister’s hockey skills. He’s got some high expectations for her on the ice.
“She’s a skilled forward. She could be a top scorer in the NCAA in the next couple years.”
Both Zac and Rebecca are thankful for their parents and really appreciate the opportunities afforded to them because of the way they were raised.
“Without them we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”