As everyone knows, I have a serious hockey addiction problem, one that I don't intend to rectify! I was born in 1962, before expansion, and was a Leafs fan from the womb. When I was 11 1/2, I realized the Leafs would never amount to anything as the fans were seen as nothing more than cash cows, so I began the process of switching allegiances. I knew I'd be called a traitor but I wasn't going to let that stop me, and I found my new team: The Philadelphia Flyers! I loved the hard-nosed hockey they played and the tenacity of their captain, the legendary Bobby Clarke.
Since then I've lived and died with the Flyers. I also try to get to OHL games whenever possible, and attended my first of the season last night. I realized I had the evening free and emailed my friend Peter to see if he could go, so after a large meal and a ton, and I do mean a ton of laughs, off we went to Mississauga to watch the Majors take on the Plymouth Whalers.
We managed to not get lost going there, something that rarely happens, and arrived to find that the ice was pink:
It was "Paint the rink pink" night to bring awareness and raise money for breast cancer research. The Majors wore blue and pink uniforms instead of blue and white, and fans were given pink reusable bags and glow sticks upon entering.
All in all it was a good game, a bit chippy, a few too many penalties by over-exuberant refs, and with 2 seconds to go in the third, the Whalers won it on the power play. The crowd was furious because the Majors had 2 penalties called in the last minute or so and they responded with a very loud chorus of boos as well as by throwing things on the ice. I know a lot of people will finger wag at this type of behaviour but this team has had virtually no support even though they've had good teams over the years. Toronto is not a hockey city, if it isn't the Leafs they don't care about it and more often than not, OHL games in Mississauga, Brampton, and the old barn at St. Michael's Arena are badly attended. So to see the fans show some passion was a wonderful change.
Part of this may be because The Memorial Cup will be played in Mississauga this year. The host team gets an automatic bye although they still have to go through the same playoff process as the other teams in the Canadian Hockey League. Hopefully this keeps fans interested beyond this year because we've already lost one GTA area team and I'd hate to lose a second.
To complete the day, it's Hockey Day in Canada, with CBC showing all things hockey including 3 games from noon until the late game finishes. This year they're hosting from the Yukon and it's a great way to celebrate the game.