The Acton name is a familiar one to Leafs fans, but perhaps new to them was the first name last season: Will. Will Acton has been blazing a new trail under that surname ever since he laced them up for his first pro season in Toronto, with the Marlies. He quickly established himself as a consistent two way player and rounded into a reliable centre on Dallas Eakins’ squad. He’s back and looking to improve on AHL season number one; that included a trip to the Calder Cup finals.

Bringing the Stouffville native closer to home for all of you Marlies fans is hard to do, but check out the latest Q and A blog and hopefully you’ll get to know # 14 even better!

 How do you put the experience of your first year of pro into words?

“I don’t know. It was obviously a great experience. We had a great run as a team and to make it to the Calder Cup Finals in your first year of pro is pretty special. I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot and hopefully we can carry that into this upcoming season.”

What does the long playoff run do for a player? What kind of impact does it have?

“For me I learned the price you pay to win. I learned what it takes in terms of fitness level and determination.. what you have to do to win…all of the sacrifices you have to make during the game and where the bar is set. You find out what it is like and you keep that in your memory bank. We have plans for next spring and we are all hoping that we can be there again and we can draw from that and learn from what we went through to produce a better result.”

 What were the highlights from your summer?

“I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to have an overseas experience through the Marlies. Gregg Scott and I went to Germany for a week and trained with a pro team (Mannheim Adler) and we went to Zurich, as well, and trained there for a week. It was really great to learn different things that we can bring back and incorporate into our game here. Whether it be training regiments, or different styles of play, we learned a few things like that. The Marlies coaching staff were there viewing it, as well and I think it’s a great program that they offer..it was cool! I had never been to Europe before, so it was great to be able to do that and hopefully we learn from it.”

Did you get to enjoy some of the European lifestyle?

 “We traveled around different places after practice. It was great, even though we didn’t go far; just about an hour or so from where we were based. It was neat to see how they live their life, seeing everything fresh. We can incorporate it coming back with something as simple as eating everything fresh..fresh food…it was a remarkable experience and I am grateful for it.”

Are you a chocolate guy?

“I was, maybe a little bit more than I should have. I indulged a little bit, but it was part of the experience. It was great.”

Did you do much training back in these parts as well?

“Yes. I’m from Stouffville so I commuted into the MasterCard Centre and we had training all summer. Our training staff with Anthony Belza and Mark Fitzgerald: they are some of the best guys around and I feel fortunate to have been able to train with them through the summer. I feel ready and I’m just waiting for camp to kick up and get going.”

Is that an area of focus for you; improving physically?

“I learned last year coming in from college you are playing against bigger and stronger men, it is more physically demanding. You learn areas to improve on and that is one I think I can, in my second year I can learn to use my body a little bit better and carry the play a little better. I want to contribute more in all areas, even in defending. I’m hoping to pick up where I left off and continue on with the learning curve.”

Did you get to relax at all then, during the summer?

“I was able to catch up with some friends and family. During the season you don’t get to see them very much. I just relaxed when I could, take some time away to recharge. I still retained my physical regimen and now I’m ready to go.”

Is it nice to have the contract stuff behind you?

“That is something a lot of guys face. It is part of the business with the uncertainty going into July, but once it is complete and it’s behind me then you can look forward to camp. It’s something that is part of the game, which we all become used to.

 The Marlies set the bar for a lot of teams last year based on many stats, do you like the fact coming in there may be pressure to continue that along?

“Yeah, I think so. My focus as a player is not to get too carried away with anything. I just think about the next game, the next shift. I reflect upon what I did well, not so well and learn from there. If you take that approach 6-7 months of the season, you are sitting  in a good spot by the end of it. If you just take that mindset into every game through 6-7 months then at the end of the year, those things look after themselves.”

Knowing a larger group from last year are still intact, are you happy to return with so many familiar faces?

“Absolutely, not only are the guys key contributors on the ice, our core guys made for a great room and good group of guys, character guys. It’s good to have that group back for bust trips and on the road we can all spend time together, it goes a long way when you have team comradery like that – which we do, even some of the new guys that I have met, seem like they will fit in perfectly and fit in on the ice as well. From my mindset things look great and we-re all ready to get into camp.

What does it mean to have the fan support you do?

“That is obviously great. They have been spectacular to us. You bump into people around the city and it is always really nice to hear their kind words. When you get to the Ricoh  and see how many people support  us, it makes our jobs special. We can’t do what we do without them. We’re hoping we can keep that ball rolling here from last year and keep the support strong.”

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