The Marlies Saturday contest against the Belleville Senators may go down in history as an unspectacular 2-1 shootout win. However, this was no ordinary game.
No, this particular contest was special, taking place inside the Air Canada Centre, the cathedral of hockey’s Vatican.
From the players, all the way to the scrubs up in the press box (me), this was undeniably a big moment.
For former NHLers like Ben Smith and Colin Greening, it served as a reminder of the ultimate goal dangling just outside their grasp. Don’t get me wrong, Ricoh Coliseum is a beautiful barn, but the ACC is like stepping from community theatre and onto a Broadway stage. No kid dedicates their entire life to one sport, without the dream of playing it at the highest level.
Personally, I hope they both get an opportunity to live their dream one more time. Are you telling me Arizona couldn’t use either of them? They’re playing Zach Rinaldo regular minutes!
On the other hand, aspiring NHLers like Jeremy Bracco, Andreas Johnsson and Timothy Liljegren were given a first-hand look at winning on NHL ice feels. This was a unique opportunity, as the youngsters were able to navigate every nook and cranny of their soon-to-be home. Even better, the game even went to a shootout, the standard ending to any Leafs game.
And considering they beat a team called “The Senators”, they should probably get used to doing that. It’s a Toronto tradition.