Well, the official preseason may not start for another week, and Luke Schenn might not be signed yet, but this weekend, hockey fans got their first taste of the world’s greatest game, as rookies hoping to crack the rosters of the Penguins, Blackhawks, Senators and Leafs converged on Oshawa, Ontario. The baby-Baby Leafs have put on a great show thus far, downing the Blackhawks’ rookies on Saturday night and the youngsters from Pittsburgh last night.
A number of the prospects that Leaf fans are eager to get a glimpse of were in attendance, including a number of high profile draft picks from the past two seasons. Brad Ross, Greg McKegg, Josh Nicholls, Jesse Blacker, Sondre Olden and Jerry D’Amigo have all been in the system for at least a year, while new additions Jake Gardiner, Matt Frattin, Josh Leivo, David Broll, Stuart Percy and goaltenders Mark Owuya and Garrett Sparks all make their debuts wearing the Maple Leaf.
Gardiner was the hero on Saturday, showing off that skating skill and finesse we’ve been hearing so much about, and adding some finish with a pair of goals, including the game winner. That particular goal was a great example of the skills we’re all hoping and praying he has, as he glided almost effortlessly up ice, weaved through the neutral zone and unleashed a deceptively quick wrister that found the twine and gave the Leafs enough cushion to win the game. Check out the Game in Six for more highlights, including a great fight from Jamie DeVane, who has had a strong showing so far, as well.
Last night, the Leafs kept their winning ways rolling, although they got off to a slow start. Sparks was unable to get to a rebound off the game’s first offensive outburst from the Penguins, and the Leafs were down 1-0 after just 13 seconds of play. Fortunately, Sparks managed to keep his cool, and played shutout hockey for the next 59:47. McKegg was the hero of the day, grabbing two assists, including a beauty of a cross-ice pass to Mitchell Heard, and scoring on a sweet little backhand deke on a breakaway late in the 3rd, helping push the Leafs’ total to 9 goals in their first 2 games. MapleLeafs.com has the Game in Six.
The bragging rights and so-called tournament championship will come down to tomorrow night’s game between the Leafs and Senators, as both squads come in to the tilt undefeated. You can stream the game online at mapleleafs.nhl.com, although it’s delayed by a half hour, or you can watch in real time on Rogers.
Tags: Brad Ross Chicago Blackhawks David Broll Garrett Sparks Greg McKegg Jake Gardiner Jamie Devane Jesse Blacker Josh Leivo Josh Nicholls Kenny Ryan Mark Owuya Matt Frattin Ottawa Senators Pittsburgh Penguins Rookie Tournament Sondre Olden Stuart Percy Toronto Maple Leafs