Scotiabank may have a million kids and counting as part of their Scotia Hockey Club program, but during the Maple Leafs home opener on October 3rd, the bank gave the Ted Reeve Thunder Atom “A” squad a million reasons to smile. The Scotiabank sponsored team were special guests during the inaugural game at Scotiabank Arena and were assigned with the important task of dropping the puck for the ceremonial puck drop.
“I have a million stories from that evening, including the entire team hugging [Maple Leaf Sports Chairman] Larry Tannenbaum before dropping the puck,” explained Head Coach Christine Miles, who helped arrange the experience for the team. “This is a real special team of kids and parents – we’re all lucky.”
To prepare for puck drop, the team was taken through four dress rehearsals to ensure the timing worked perfectly. During their practice, the team was also reminded not to bother Leafs backup goaltender Garrett Sparks as he did his pre-game routine on the bench. While Christine says that it killed the kids not to speak to Sparks, they had many interactions with other Leafs player.s
“I touched [Mitch] Marner’s bare hand. Not his glove, his bare hand,” explained one of the players when asked what they enjoyed most about the evening. Other teammates explained that they counted down the days until what became known as ‘the day’.
The experience also assisted in boosting the Thunder’s on-ice confidence. Since dropping the puck, the team has only recorded one loss in six games.
“The kids were treated like celebrities and out of their skin with excitement the entire day,” said Miles. “It’s a memory none of us will ever forget.”