Battle of Ontario games are so much fun that the Leafs and Senators decided to play two — in one day.
And hockey fans in attendance as the preseason kicked off Saturday at Scotiabank Arena weren’t complaining.
In fact, they were loving it.
“It’s my son’s first ever Toronto Maple Leaf game and mine too,” Melissa Loon said, while enjoying every minute with her son Benjamin, 5. “It’s so exciting.”
Part of that excitement was the fact there were so many families at these split-squad games. After watching stars such as Mitch Marner, John Tavares and Mark Giordano beat Ottawa 3-1 in the afternoon game, some fans stuck around to watch back-to-back Rocket Richard winner Auston Mattews take the ice against the Sens in the evening game.
No one cared that these were split-squad games or that it was only preseason action. They were just glad to be there because during the regular season tickets are not nearly as easy to come by — or as affordable.
Tickets for these games were selling for as low as $37 and up to $57. So fans, especially families, took full of vantage of it.
“We have never seen that many strollers before,” teased one usher. “So many of these people at their first game will be fans for a lifetime.”
Bruno Chivzi, 11, took in his inaugural Leafs game with his dad Rafael.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “I love it.”
Nothing against the season ticket holders, but three things that were noticeable at these games were that the fans didn’t miss the beginning of each period, they cheered without being told to on the scoreboard, and they performed the wave.
It was fantastic.
Maybe they should do those hockey doubleheaders more often — or perhaps a hat trick of hockey games.