The ACC was rocking tonight. I know it was a pre-season game, I know it means nothing, but man what an atmosphere. From the walk in where people were pumped up, complete with face and body paint. There are NHL arenas that won’t have crowds like that all year(no joke). Hats off to the folks at MLSE and Coke Canada, they really did it up right tonight and the fans certainly appeared to appreciate it. Everyone was talking about it wherever you went in the building.
First of all, free t-shirts to every fan who walked in the building. They also gave out free noise bats too. That was just the start. They were giving out t-shirts, tickets, coke all through the game. On those long t.v. breaks when the ushers usually fire t shirts into the stands, current maple leafs were giving out jerseys. Wendel Clark delivered a years supply of pop to a lucky fan too. The arena was filled with staff, and they were pretty helpful too. There were no long lines at concessions or even in the bathrooms.
As for the game. It started with a roaring ovation for Cujo. Despite a shaky first minute, he settled in for a pretty good first period. From my perspective the leafs looked more prepared for this game then most home games I saw last season. They didn’t have that deer in headlights look on their faces, but maybe that was because so many of them weren’t here last year. Carlo Colaicovo was really impressive. Man if he can stay healthy. Luke Schenn didn’t look out of place and I was amused that he was paired with Jeff Finger. Finger who got an assist on a goal didn’t look out of place either. It was hard not to notice Dominic Moore every time he was on the ice. The one thing that stood out to me the most was that on the Leaf bench there was actual coaching going on. Every time a guy came to the bench one of the coaches was over talking about something, pointing something out to the player.
Ryan Hollweg, delivered the hit of the night after taking what looked like a bit of a beating in an earlier fight. He certainly plays with jam that was missing last year too. He also didn’t embarrass himself away from the puck like others who playing his role have in recent years. Justin Pogge looked very poised, and comfortable in his two periods of play, even though he gave up one soft goal.
Let me repeat this again. It was an exhibition game. It was the first exhibition at that. It means nothing. What it was, however was fun night at the acc. The media I am sure will play all the usual cards tomorrow. So, lets enjoy this for what it was, a good effort in a meaningless game.