By Kevin Lee
After yesterday's game at the First Niagara Center, I made my way back to Toronto to take in the Sens game at the Air Canada Centre. I expected the game day experience to be completely different than that in Buffalo and I wasn't wrong.
I took the subway to get to the game and they actually have a specific entrance to the ACC that you can enter through after you get off. As me and my friend walked in, he noticed Dave Nonis shaking the hands of many of the Leafs fans entering. I had to get a photo with this guy! I approached Nonis, but before I could reach him I was literally lifted off the ground by a security guard and pulled away.
That was just a joke though, and I was able to get my photo taken with him (after making a crack about me being a Sens fan of course). Nonis was a good sport about it, and did quite the pose for the photo!
As we walked through the arena we were heckled by far more fans than Buffalo. Many of the ushers also pretended to refuse us help because of our jerseys (they were all extremely helpful afterwards). The Leafs were also kind enough to provide us with some weapons to defend ourselves (turns out they were just blue glowsticks).
Our seats were perfect. This was because on our right we had our favourite type of Leafs fan (a.k.a. a nice quiet wall).
And like last year's home opener, the Leafs provided all fans with a Leafs scarf, perfect for the warm walk outside after the game.
The arena itself was pretty nice, but there was nothing spectacular about it. The 100 level is noticeably larger than all the others I've seen. It's a solid way of earning more revenue; maybe Eugene will make some renovations over the summer?
Like the Canadian Tire Centre, the ACC had the problem of crowds building in the hallways during the intermissions because of the washroom locations. One cool thing about the ACC is they had a mini Real Sports area where you could order food off the RS menu as well as drinks. They also had a Smoke's Poutenerie which is the most popular food choice at the CTC. However, in Toronto it appeared to be struggling a bit with the much larger selection of food available.
The crowd itself was quite incredible. I have to give the Leafs fans credit. The amount of blue and white jerseys I saw in the crowd was impressive. They were also consistently loud throughout the game as well. That could be attributed to the amount of beers consumed to help them forget how much they spent on tickets. However, most impressive to me was their intermission entertainment. The first intermission had one fan in each corner faceoff circle with two pucks. They had to shoot the puck as close to center ice where the Maple Leafs mascot was. The winner got season tickets! The second intermission featured a full contact goalie race between three goalies decked out in Sens gear and three in Leafs gear. Unlike the goalie races they used to hold in Ottawa, this was a fully choreographed sequence and essentially became WWE on ice. Quite entertaining to be honest.
Of course the Sens lost the game, and I had to endure the post game parade as they chanted "Go Leafs Go" throughout the concourse as if they won the Stanley Cup. I also had to go through another wave of chirping and heckling by Leafs fans. That was to be expected though, especially if you've attended any Toronto games at the CTC. It was definitely an experience and one I would recommend to any Sens fan!