Maritimers making their mark on NHL playoffs
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are well underway, and hockey fans have been treated to several tense overtime wins already. But this year, Maritimers seem to be taking particular interest with a handful of local players making their mark.
Cole Harbour's own Sidney Crosby is one of a handful of Maritime-born players vying for hockey's ultimate prize this year.
Hammonds Plains native Brad Marchand netted the game-winning goal for his Boston Bruins in Game 1 against Ottawa last week.
And Fredericton's Jake Allen has backstopped his St. Louis Blues to three straight victories, with 40 saves Sunday night against Minnesota.
Hockey fans in the Maritimes are taking note.
“I think the local kids, when they're doing well, the fans are really following them,” said former sports journalist Alex Joseph. "Sometimes the fans are caught between teams and individuals.”
Those split allegiances have been made all the more prominent this year with five Canadian teams in the playoffs – a marked change from last year, when Canada was shut out of the postseason.
That's good news for sports bars who are preparing for big crowds even on a Monday night, with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames all in action.
“It's been packed,” says server Shaelynn Colbo. “Every night it's been insane. All the sports fans come out, they all have their jerseys on. It's great.”
And it seems one long-awaited playoff return has fans particularly excited.
“We're selling mostly Toronto Maple Leaf jerseys,” says sports store manager Tyler Kent. “Connor McDavid is a big one too, Montreal Canadiens are always huge, but I tell ya for certain most of the hype is around Toronto.”
Toronto's youth revival has them back in the hunt and their fans seem to be coming out of the woodwork. No doubt, the Leafs are one of several teams with a long history in the Maritimes.
“Growing up in Cape Breton, everyone's either a Habs fan, Leafs fan, or Bruins fan. It makes for a lot of fun rivalries,” says Josh McGrath.
Rivalries that show no sign of fading among fans who have no trouble showing their true colours.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie