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Anaheim defenceman Joe DiPenta is that other player from Cole Harbour, N.S.

Most hockey fans respond to this quiz instantly. Their answer is Sidney Crosby, the big-league scoring champion this season at the age of 19.

They would be correct, of course, but there is another option.

"I know who it is," Joe DiPenta says with certainty.

It is, of course, DiPenta, who is playing defence for the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference final against the Detroit Red Wings.

DiPenta was born in Barrie, Ont., and that's what shows on most biographical sketches in print and on websites, but he grew up in Cole Harbour after his family moved east when he was young.

"I go under the radar on that," he says.

DiPenta is nine years older than Sid The Kid so they weren't hanging out with the same crowd and swapping hockey cards in the Halifax suburbs.

"I only met him once, when he was seven or eight years old," says DiPenta. "I haven't met him since."

He always heard a lot about Crosby.

"He's been talked up ever since he was six years old," says DiPenta. "My younger sisters had friends that played on the same teams as him and they always said he was going to be the next Gretzky.

"You hear that and, well, I remember when I was a little kid and there was always going to be another Gretzky, but they'd say, 'No, no, this kid is good.' It's been so much fun to see him mature as a player and actually live up to all the hype.

"When he was 13 or 14 he was playing midget triple A when was two or three years underage, playing for Dartmouth Subways, and he was the best player in the league. I remember thinking, 'Wow, everyone is right about what they're saying about this guy.' "

It's cool to have the same home town as Crosby, says DiPenta.

"I'm already proud to come from Cole Harbour as a hockey player and, to have him put it on the map, that's pretty awesome," he says.

After Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated by Ottawa in the first round of the playoffs, the other NHL player from Cole Harbour remained in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. Should he get it, he says he wouldn't consider it a case of one-upping Crosby.

"I don't look at it that way," he says. "I don't have a rivalry with Sidney.

"I don't think that would be wise. What a tremendous hockey player he is, a totally different player than I am. I don't have any of those thoughts at all.

"I know he's going to have a long career ahead of him and I'm sure lots of success. That Pittsburgh team looked awfully good this year. They made a lot of strides from last year. They're only going to get better so I expect to see him in the playoffs for a long time to come."

DiPenta got his first job at age 18 cutting Dartmouth lawns with a push mower eight hours a day for a property rental company. He had a much different path to the NHL than did Crosby, a No. 1 draft pick who stepped from junior into the big league.

DiPenta spent most of five pro seasons in the AHL before getting a full-time job with the Ducks last season.

DiPenta returns to the region each summer. So does Crosby, but they still don't move in the same circles and they work out in different places.

"He's got to go really early," says DiPenta. "He wouldn't be able to get his workout done otherwise because everyone would bug him.

"He commands a lot of attention."

It is not a level of attention with which DiPenta is familiar, but he'll always be proud to be that other NHL player from Cole Harbour.



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