Darryl Boyce is living out a dream as a professional hockey player.
One day he hopes to walk across the stage during a University of New Brunswick Convocation and live out another.
Boyce, who played varsity hockey for the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds from 2005-2007 and is now a member of the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, is just 10 credits shy of earning his business degree from UNB.
Though he’s making a good living in the American Hockey League and still dreams of becoming a full time member of the parent Toronto Maple Leafs, he also thinks about life after hockey and the importance of finishing what he started at UNB.
That’s why for the last two summers he has returned to Fredericton to train alongside fellow V-Red turned professional hockey player Rob Hennigar (Victoria Salmon Kings) and take courses towards his degree.
He plans to do the same this summer and for that matter every summer until he has that elusive piece of paper in hand. He is on pace for a major in Economics.
“UNB is a great school with a lot of history and it would absolutely mean something to me to have a degree from there,” he said. “The programs are exceptional, the community there is great and just knowing the times I had there and the support the school gave me while I was there I feel obligated to go back and sort of finish what I started.”
Boyce, who has nine points in 23 games with the Marlies this season, willingly admits UNB wasn’t his first option following a four-year junior career with the Toronto St. Michaels Majors that saw him go undrafted, but he’ll also tell you it turned out to be the best option.
He played two seasons for the Varsity Reds, won a national championship in 2007, and developed a passion and knack for business from his time in the classroom.
He was actually offered a two-way contract with the Leafs following his rookie season, but turned it down.
When he was offered another contract following his second season, it was UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall who convinced him to leave College Hill.
“I didn’t really have too many options and I was more or less forced into going to school, but going to UNB turned out tobe the perfect situation,” he says now. “I got the best of both worlds. I got half done school and ended up playing hockey for a career.”
A competitor in everything he does, Boyce would like to be fully done school sometime in the next two years, before his younger sister can earn her education degree.
“It was sort of a slap in the face when she graduated before I did, so I’d like to have my degree done before she gets her education degree,” he said.
Of course for Boyce education is a summertime pursuit. The winter is reserved for chasing that other dream, the NHL, something Marlies assistant coach Derek King believes is within grasp.
Boyce actually suited up for the Leafs in January 2008, but separated his shoulder on just his fifth shift. To this day it has been his only taste of the big show.
“Right now Boycey and his linemates (GregScott and Jay Rosehill) are being very consistent and hopefully the parent club is taking notice of it,” King said. “He is the type of player who isn’t necessarily great at any one thing, but does everything well and he can get to the next level.”
For Boyce the dream is just across the hallway at the the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence in suburban Toronto where both the Marlies and Leafs simultaneously practice in adjacent rinks.
“The dream is probably 25 steps away to the other (ice) pad,” he said. “I mean every day we practice and we can see them (Leafs) through the windows in the other rink and it’s one of those things where you can almost taste it.”
Contributed by Chris Fox. This story was made possible thanks to the financial support of the UNB Associated Alumni