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Legends take centre stage

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by Mike Ball

Nostalgia and memories of glory days gone by took over Air Canada Centre when the third annual Legends Game took place before a raucous crowd Sunday afternoon.

Leaf greats like Borje Salming, Wendel Clark, Ron Ellis, Lanny McDonald, Darryl Sitler and Tiger Williams helped make up the Leafs Legends, who battled against Bernie Federko, Rod Langway, Michel Goulet, Marcel Dionne and others, who skated for the NHL Legends team.

Many former Leafs took part in the festivities.

Clark Gillies, Federko and "The Secretary of Defence" Langway were the real stars, along with Roger Neilson. They are getting ready for theeir Hockey Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony Monday night.

Neilson dropped the ceremonial puck to get the festivites underway. The event was for the fans and a number of measures were taken to ensure the game was enjoyable.

After each goal, the scorer was obliged to toss a few T-shirts into the stands. Also, rather that having penalties served in the box, a three-on-none penalty shot was the fine.

The voice of the Leafs, Joe Bowen emceed the game from the ice and was the referee as well.

Ron MacLean and Jim McKenny traded their microphones for skates.

Some of the funniest moments of the afternoon came on the video screen. The Leafs' game operations staff played back television commercials from the seventies and eighties starring the likes of Sittler and MacDonald. Bowen made sure to give a dig to the each of the stars as their spots were played.

The NHL Legends held the Lead going into the third period by a slim 7-6 margin. Rick Vaive's goal tied things up before the Blue and White took the lead moments later on successful penalty shot by Jim McKenny.

Then, miraculously the Legends reclaimed the lead when they brought in a group of sub-4-foot ringers in the form of the "Timbits". The tiny skaters scored twice despite constant bullying of tough-guy Tiger Williams, who tussled with one youngster while the Timbits were scoring at the other end.

Joe Bowen doubled as a referee.

The game looked to be out of reach for the Leafs legends, but inexplicably with little more than three minutes to play and a two-goal lead, the Legends put in a new goalie, who turned out to be Leafs mascot, Carlton the Bear.

The Bear did not look good and it was quickly realized why he's in the stands and not on the ice, allowing two goals on two shots to force overtime, which was a five-man shootout format.

The Leaf shooters Clark, MacDonald, Vaive, Salming and Sittler all were stopped as were the first four shooters on the Legends side.

Marcel Dionne potted the winner on the final shot to give the NHL Legends a 10-9 victory.

"It's aways fun to play these games with these old guys," said Dionne after the game. "It's good to score the game-winner too."
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