With the rain coming down, and due to the cold, it would be easy to understand if there were a somber mood about the Garden, but the players' enthusiasm, mixed with a heavy dose of season ticket holder and fan support, brought Bruins hockey back to Boston in one fell swoop.
"It was good for the fans," said Tim Thomas
, who did not allow a goal in his portion of the black vs. white game. "It was nice for practice to be here at the TD Banknorth Garden because usually it's at Ristuccia and it's a little warmer here."
Beyond the warmth of the building, in contrast to the noted chilliness of the rink in Wilmington, the Bruins faithful kept the building hopping.
"I was looking up and around when I was on the bench," said Shawn Thornton
, one of the newest members of the Black & Gold. "It's pretty cool being in this building."
As it is with many new B's, Thornton said that wearing the spoked-B was a thrill on its own and seeing the fans show their early support was icing on the cake.
"It was really cool to see them up there," said Thornton.
For his part, Thornton was more than pleased to start playing again.
"It's good to get into taking the body again," said the new B's policeman. "I forgot what it felt like to run into somebody."
Timmy agreed with his big comrade. Thomas had a good afternoon between the pipes, but the B's backstop said that success in the preseason might not mean much.
"It's nice (but) last year, this time, I was the worst goalie in camp, judging from the amount of goals scored in scrimmages," said the grinning Timmy, "It's not always the true tale of the tape, but it's nice.
"It makes you feel like you are getting your game back."
The Bruins fans in attendance looked to be working their way into regular season form, as well.
For most of the practice sessions, and scrimmage, the fans sat watching, semi-quietly, as the coaching staff led their charges. During the scrimmage, more and more oohs and ahs permeated the atmosphere whenever the B's made a nice play, until the heartiest applause reached its crescendo at half time of the scrimmage.
Phil Kessel, in only his second pro camp, had the fans on their feet when he lit the lamp with a spectacular shot during the second portion of the game.
"The puck got dumped in and Jeremy Reich forechecked hard," explained Kessel. "The puck game out to me and I just shot it in.
"You know, you pick out your spots and hope it goes in."
Kessel said that sometimes it's a little weird to play a game against your own.
"It's tough sometimes, but it's always fun (to play) a game," he said.
The humble sophomore also said that he feels as if the club has already turned a corner.
"I think we are going to have a good team here," said Kessel. "Obviously, we have some good players and it's going to be a lot of fun."
Beyond the game and the practices, Thomas thought that the afternoon had all the proper ingredients for a good day. You see, he and some of his Bruins teammates made their way to the Season Ticket Holders Barbeque -- held inside on the building's concourse because of the weather.
"As long as they've got food," said Tim, "I'm there."
Several thousand fans agreed with the goaltender.
---Fan Fest continues at the Garden on Sunday.