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Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk now firmly a Jersey guy


Devils left winger Ilya Kovalchuk isn’t quite ready for a starring role on the hit TV reality show “Jersey Shore”’ along with Snooki and the gang, but he says life in New Jersey fits him and his family just fine.

In fact, he recently bought several acres in Alpine and is planning to build a house for his wife Nicole, and three young children — Karolina, 5, Philipp, 2, and Artem, who turns 1 next month. It should be finished in another year and a half. He has an offseason home in Florida.

Friday was the one-year anniversary of the trade that brought him from Atlanta to the Devils. Although the goals and victories haven’t come as quickly as Kovalchuk would like, there’s plenty of time for that with 14 years remaining on his lifetime 15-year, $100-million contract.

“I’m very happy to be here,” Kovalchuk said Saturday after practice at the AmeriHealth Pavilion. “There are some nice areas here in Jersey and some great schools for the kids. … I’m renting a place right now and it’s close to the rink and (New York) City.

“But I came here to play hockey. I want to be more successful and help this team because when you’re winning, that’s when the fun starts.”

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