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Boll inches from dream

Jared Boll, who attended Prairie Ridge for two years, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Photo courtesy of Plymouth Whalers)
Jared Boll, who attended Prairie Ridge for two years, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Photo courtesy of Plymouth Whalers)

Growing up in Crystal Lake, Jared Boll often went ice skating for fun on lakes with his dad, Peter Boll.

When Jared was 8 or 9 years old, his father took him to a “learn-to-skate” at the Crystal Ice House as a prelude to playing ice hockey.

“John Mahoney over there said, ‘No, he doesn’t need it. You should get him playing right away,’ ” Peter Boll said. “Most kids start hockey at 4 or 5. But the second he got on the ice, that was it. He loved it.”

Jared Boll had started on a course that now has him oh-so-close to fulfilling a dream and goal: playing in the NHL.

Boll, who attended Prairie Ridge for two years before shipping off to junior hockey, this past week signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Peter Boll could not be prouder “ and his son sounds just as grateful.

“Where I’m at today, I couldn’t be here without my dad,” Boll said Monday in a phone interview. “Getting signed was the best day of my life, other than getting drafted. This is just another step in the right direction to make my dream come true.”

Boll was a fourth-round pick of Columbus two years ago; because he plays in juniors with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League and not in college “ NHL teams hold college players’ rights longer “ the window for Columbus to sign him was closing.

Boll’s agent, Larry Kelly, also has represented Steve Yzerman and Adam Oates.

The Jackets seem to view Boll “ a 6-foot-3, 195-pound winger with scoring skill and a physical presence “ as a priority; other players like him have yet to sign.

“I had two pretty good camps with Columbus, and I knew they were pretty happy with me,” Boll said.

Boll’s Plymouth team is in the second round of its playoffs which, if it keeps winning, could last until June and the Memorial Cup “ a pretty good simulation of the NHL’s Stanley Cup grind.

Such a destiny has been the point all along for Boll, 20, who uprooted himself after his sophomore season at Prairie Ridge to live with host families in Lincoln, Neb., where he played in the USHL and finished high school.

“It was pretty tough going away that young,” Boll said. “But I’ve had great luck with all the families I’ve lived with.”

Boll has been away from home for so long, and has been surrounded by so many people from Canada, that he even talks with a slight Canadian accent.

“All the guys I hang out with are from Canada “ I guess it kind of rubs off on me a bit,” Boll said with a laugh.

He chose not to play in college, despite an offer from Minnesota Duluth, in part because the NCAA tends to frown on physical play.

Boll “ who scored 47 goals in two regular seasons with Plymouth and has six points in 13 playoff games so far this season “ also fights if he has to.

“I try to bring every aspect of the game to the table,” Boll said. “Everybody likes to score, but teams need a guy who will go out and hit and give the team energy.”

If Boll doesn’t make the Columbus roster next season, he would play at its minor-league affiliate, Syracuse of the AHL.