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From the Sawgrass Expressway to Broadway?: Andrew Yogan Makes Florida Hockey History

Yogan2LOS ANGELES -- There have been players born in Florida taken in the NHL draft before.

But until Saturday, no player who was born and raised in the Sunshine State had ever been selected by an NHL team.

Andrew Yogan, who says he still has a poster of Pavel Bure hanging on a bedroom wall, made history on Saturday when the Rangers took him with the 100th overall pick of the 2010 Draft at Staples Center.

The Panthers had ample chances to take Yogan, who grew up playing in Pompano Beach and Coral Springs. In fact, the Panthers took Finnish winger Joonas Donskoi with the 99th pick they acquired in a trade with the Wild earlier in the day.

The Panthers, however, made defenseman R.J. Boyd the second Sunshine State raised player selected when they took him 183rd overall in the seventh round. Boyd was born in Sarasota and played youth hockey on the west coast.

While being picked by the Panthers would have been pretty cool, Yogan couldn't stop smiling as he talked about being selected by the Rangers.

"That would have been nice, but I'm real excited to be part of the Rangers organization,'' said Yogan, who plays for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League after leaving South Florida at age 15. "It's now my goal to play for the Rangers one day. I'm going to reset my goals and do that. When the Rangers come to South Florida, there's usually more Rangers fans there than Panthers. So I'm excited. It happens all the time.''

Yogan1 Yogan hopes he is the first of many South Florida kids to travel to the draft and hear their name called. Youth leagues are blossoming in the tri-county area, and the St. Thomas Aquinas high school team recently finished second in a national tournament.

Yogan began playing hockey after catching Panthers fever during the 1996 run to the Stanley Cup Finals. He started playing at Glacier Ice Arena in Pompano before moving on to the Junior Panthers at Incredible Ice. 

Other NHL draftees with South Florida ties include Blake Geoffrion and Sam Gagner.

Geoffrion was born in Plantation but moved to Tennessee at an early age; he was taken in the second round of the 2006 draft by Nashville. Gagner, whose father Dave played for the Panthers, started playing ice hockey in Coral Springs but moved away when Dave was traded to Vancouver and eventually retired and relocated to Canada.

Sam Gagner was the sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft by the Oilers.

"Hockey was slow there to start, but it really started to grow,'' said Yogan. "It's really growing. I think you're going to see some Florida kids in the next couple of drafts. I'm excited to be the first one.''

Boyd was born in Sarasota and didn't start playing until he was 10. Boyd attended Edison Prep in Fort Myers before moving north to the Cushing Academy in Massachusetts. Boyd, XX-XX, will play at Sacred Heart University in the fall.

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I can't wait to hear from Tallon on the next step. This was a very good draft and our farm system has been infused with a lot of good, young talent. Now the next week will determine where we stand for 2010-2011: are we rebuilding this year or are we going to put a team on the ice that can legitimately compete for the playoffs?

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