Island athlete lands full university scholarship

Michael Laidley will play hockey at St. Lawrence

LITTLE CURRENT—Eighteen-year-old Islander Michael Laidley is one of Ontario’s rising hockey stars, fresh off a successful win of the President’s Cup at the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) Prospect Series and the recipient of a full scholarship to St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.

The Expositor had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Laidley last week about his budding hockey career and his future.

“Everything’s been really good,” said Mr. Laidley from his Aurora home, where he currently resides as he plays for the Aurora Tigers. “The CJHL Prospects Tournament in Nova Scotia was a really great experience. Myself and my (Aurora Tigers) teammate Dylan Sikura both played for Team East and it was a lot of fun.”

Mr. Laidley said he began his career at a young age, playing hockey on his Little Current backyard rink.

“I started playing at a young age,” explained Mr. Laidley. “My parents are the ones that got me into it, but I’ve always really enjoyed the game.”

As his passion and talent for hockey grew, so did Mr. Laidley’s career, first playing locally for the Panthers, then the Sudbury Wolves bantam AAA, minor midget AA, Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves and finally on to the Aurora Tigers this fall.

“We are so proud of him,” said Michael’s father Shane Laidley of he and his wife Beryl. “He was fairly talented from a young age and has worked really hard. He’s been skating since he was two and his skating is one thing that definitely makes him stand out. He also plays both ends of the rink really well.”

Shane Laidley also noted that he and his wife were both avid hockey players growing up and were happy that Michael shares in their love of the game.

The 5’11”, 170 lb forward told The Expositor that his passion for the game and work ethic are the two elements that have helped make him a strong player.

“I’m not the fanciest player,” laughed Mr. Laidley, “but I think I’m a hard working forward. I always try to be the first to the puck. I’m also not afraid to play physical and get in the corners.”

Mr. Laidley’s passion and work ethic haven’t gone unnoticed as his recent coach (for Team East) at the CJHL Prospect Series, Tom McCarthy, who is also head coach for the new Espanola Rivermen, said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the Little Current native’s drive.

“I had the pleasure of watching Michael at the CJHL camp prior to the series,” Mr. McCarthy told The Expositor. “His work ethic and approach to the game really made him stand out. He’s one of those players that I think every team needs.”

Through coaching Mr. Laidley, Mr. McCarthy said he learned the Little Current player was “very tenacious.”

“Everyone has potential,” said Mr. McCarthy of Mr. Laidley’s hockey future. “Like with a lot of things, it’s a matter of attitude, approach and the amount of effort you put forth. He (Michael) is quite the young gentleman with a lot of respect for the game and his fellow players. I think he has a bright future in front of him.”

Mr. Laidley has a lot to look forward to. He said he is excited for his season with the Tigers which is already off to a great start, in addition to university starting in 2015.

“I’ve verbally committed to Saint Lawrence University in Canton, New York,” Mr. Laidley said. “I went for a tour in September and I really liked the school and they offered me a full scholarship.”

There were rumours that Mr. Laidley had also received offers from Yale University, as well as Western University in London, but Mr. Laidley would only confirm that he has accepted an offer from St. Lawrence for 2015.

Mr. Laidley’s parents also commented to The Expositor how proud they are of their son’s scholarship.

“It’s all we could hope for that he will get a great education and also still have the opportunity to continue to grow as a player,” commented Shane Laidley.

When Mr. Laidley isn’t playing hockey, he said he likes to return home to Manitoulin to take in local pastimes such as hunting and fishing.

“Last week I shot my first deer,” Mr. Laidley said proudly. “I also like fishing a lot. Growing up on the Island gave me a great start and helped make me a stronger player.”

Robin Burridge