Spirit's Vaudreuil has stars on his side Former Princeton player has marquee connections


If the Spirit's Dave Vaudreuil felt inclined, which he doesn't, he could be a world-class name-dropper.

Did you know he is a good friend of actress Brooke Shields, and that they were members of the same eating club for two years when they were at Princeton?

Did you know that another Princeton friend, football player Dean Cain, who dated Shields for a while, now plays Superman on TV?

Did you know that two of the hockey players he competed against as a youth, Brian Leetch and Craig Janney, are now with the NHL's New York Rangers and San Jose Sharks, respectively?

Vaudreuil doesn't volunteer these things. They must be extracted from him.

Born in Honolulu and raised in Canton, Conn., Vaudreuil was passionate about hockey as well as soccer when he was growing up. Until he was 16, when he turned exclusively to soccer, he played against Leetch and Janney in Connecticut youth hockey and joined them on all-star teams.

After a Princeton career during which he was an All-Ivy League selection, Vaudreuil was signed in the fall of 1989 by Blast coach Kenny Cooper, who had been impressed by his play that summer with the Washington Stars of the outdoor American Soccer League.

"It was my first real pro experience with players the caliber of Mike Stankovic, David Byrne and Carl Valentine," said Vaudreuil as he prepared for the Spirit's road game tonight against the Harrisburg Heat. "There were more quality players on the Blast than any pro team in the country, aside from the San Diego Sockers."

Stankovic, his teammate again with the Spirit, remembers Vaudreuil as a talented young player, versatile, with the ability to go forward and play defense, too.

"That's where I learned the most," Vaudreuil said. "That's where I learned to be a pro."

But after two seasons with the Blast, Vaudreuil said he felt suffocated by the talent that surrounded him and looked for a team with which he could play more and develop. He spent a season with Harrisburg, alternating with Franklin McIntosh.

"I needed to be a focal point at a featured midfield position," Vaudreuil said. "I had 22 goals and 34 assists and we won the division title. That's where I made a name for myself."

He left the Heat and signed with the Milwaukee Wave only because the package was so appealing: a chance to continue playing, coach the De Paul's men's team and attend De Paul's business school.

After three seasons with Milwaukee, Vaudreuil became a free agent last spring, which did not escape the attention of Spirit general manager Drew Forrester, who always had admired Vaudreuil's play.

"Dave has improved a lot since we were together in Harrisburg," McIntosh said. "He has vision and composure. He's in the upper echelon of players in the league."

Spirit tonight

Opponent: Harrisburg Heat

Site: State Farm Show Arena, Harrisburg, Pa.

Time: 7:35

Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WASA (1330 AM)

Outlook: This is the first road game of the season for the unbeaten (3-0) Spirit, which defeated Harrisburg (1-2) in its opener. Recovered from a strained elbow, G Cris Vaccaro will make his first start. D Omid Namazi and M Brad Smith, also back from injuries, are probable. F Bobby Joe Esposito is probable despite straining a hip flexor this week. D Mike Stankovic is questionable with a groin strain. Rookie Pete Schneiders (sprained ankle) is out.

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