By Jesse Ferguson
Some hockey fans assembled at the Civic Centre Friday, Nov. 23 to see some Allan Cup hockey.
Admittedly, it was strange to be here and not be seeing the hometown Brantford Blast play.
For those who don’t know, the Blast were put up for sale from longtime owner Peter Hamm. Offers to buy the team didn’t occur fast and furious, and as a result, Brantford wasn’t allowed to field a team for this season.
Sources indicate they’ll be back to play next year, but for this season, their players were dispersed across the league.
Players… and that is one reason that this game felt somewhat like a Blast game. Starting in goal for the homeside was a familiar face. Long-time starter for the Blast, Brett Leggat held the pipes. Alas, he was dawning Stoney Creek white, red, and blue, not the Blast white, red, and black, but it was pretty close. Leggat even still dawned the number 72, like he did as member of the Blast.
The game was even held on the home night of the Blast, Friday, so that too contributed to a like-feeling. The Stoney Creek Generals faced the Whitby Dunlops.
And the game was even held on the home night of the Blast, Friday night.
Kaitlin Vandertuin still held down the mic as anthem singer of O’ Canada– and she delivered a great rendition. And to this point, it felt like a Blast game indeed.
The game started out not as planned for the Blast keeper, as his Generals surrendered an early goal off the rush to Whitby’s Matt Baxter. First assist went to Darren Doherty and second assist was drawn by the Blast’s own, Derek Medeiros.
Another reason things felt close to home on this night was Leggat was peppered in the first period in goal. PointStreak’s Jake Clarke counted an astounding 19 shots against Leggat in the first frame alone.
Stoney Creek totally just didn’t have it tonight. They looked a step behind all night. Leggat was left to dry on countless occasions. That too felt somewhat similar to the Blast, though Brantford always seemed to be right in the game in front of Leggat. Stoney Creek did not tonight.
Whitby takes it by a touchdown plus a conversion, 8-0.
Medeiros racked up three assists in the victory and even cashed in a breakaway goal at the end of the contest.
Nathan Perry records the shutout, turning away all 42 General shots.
Notably, passion was missing from the arena.
“Less than half the fans of a Blast game,” one fan reasoned (reportedly there was just 210 as the marked attendance).
“No real rooting interest for the crowd,” another spectator noted.
With no horse in the race, “it’s like a neutral site game.”
All reasons sound to echo one concept: Brantford needs its Blast back.
Photo of Brett Leggat from last season on the Blast. Lyan Photography.