|That’s me in the spotlight, losing my re…wait, wrong reference. But that really is me in the spotlight!|
This is a story all about how my night got flip-turned upside down. I went to tonight’s Leaf game with a motley crew whose number included one Robert the Bruce, erstwhile housemate at 396 Johnson. He and I were walking into the Air Canada Centre when a girl named Patrice approached us.
Her, to me: “Are you a hockey player?”
Me, slightly confused: “I’ve never played a game in my life.”
Her: “Oh, that’s too bad. Because I was gonna ask if you wanted to do a promotion…”
…which is how it began, and which is how, at the ten-minute mark of the second period, Robert the Bruce and I left our perch high above the ACC and made our way back to the main entrance. I’d explained to Patrice that of course I’d played hockey–I’d just never played on an actual team. She, in turn, had me fill out a waiver, the upshot of which was I’d be participating in a promotion during the second intermission. On the Air Canada Centre ice.
The prize itself is irrelevant. I was gonna be on the ice at the ACC! And after the second period, with the Leafs nursing a 2-1 lead over the visiting Buffalo Sabres, I was led along with two other contestants out onto the ice–I was introduced as “Steve from Thunder Bay,” which is basically true–and down to the far end (the lonely end?) of the rink. Our task: aim five pucks at seven different targets. The middle one, which was also the furthest away, was worth ten points; the rest were worth either nothing or three. The person with the most points would be the winner. So there I was on the Air Canada Centre ice, hockey stick-with-an-illegal-curve in hand, ready to fire. How’d I do? Glad you asked!
Shot #1: BAM, right through the middle target. Ten points!
Shot #2: BAM, right through the middle target. Twenty points!
Shot #3: right through the middle target. Thirty points! Suddenly I’m 3/3 and feeling confident.
Shot #4: wide right (in honour of Buffalo Bills legend Scott Norwood!). Thirty points.
Shot #5: wide…uh, left, I think? Still, I’d wound up with thirty points…and did I mention I was on the Air Canada Centre ice during intermission of a Leaf game??? The next contestant amassed–I think–six points; the final shooter nailed one of their five shots, but the rest went wide of the mark. I’d won! And I was in a spotlight on the Air Canada Centre ice in front of 19,000 people! The three of us were then escorted to the bowels of the ACC, where I filled out a form and accepted…a spot on the Leafs’ second penalty killing unit. Just kidding! I’d actually won a thousand free ETR kilometers, which I’ll donate to someone else. Like I said, the prize itself is irrelevant. I can promise you I’ll never have a better second intermission than tonight’s.
Oh: and the Leafs won, too, the first time they’ve beat Buffalo in all the times I’ve seen the two teams play.