Toronto Maple Leafs forward Matt Martin kept a diary of his experiences at the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, the 20th outdoor regular-season game and the second of four this season.
In his game-day installment, Martin talks about an eventful 5-4 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings.
TORONTO -- I think this was a perfect day for an outdoor game. Temperature-wise, it was amazing. The ice was in good shape. The atmosphere was amazing with the setup. It was pretty nice having fans almost right on top of you here. It was a special game to be a part of, Toronto Maple Leafs against the Detroit Red Wings.
Growing up, my mom's side of the family rooted for the Maple Leafs and my dad's side rooted for the Red Wings so for me, this was pretty cool thing to be a part of and I tried to enjoy it and take it all in. Winning this game was pretty important and we have a pretty good young player in Auston Matthews who stole that one for us.
The game was delayed half an hour and hockey players are creatures of habit, but we haven't played a 3 o'clock game all year so it wasn't a problem. I've seen enough of these to know that every year they seem to get delayed a bit, whether it's sun, too hot, the ice, whatever.
It took a while for this game to really get going and I think that happens a lot in big games, and this was outdoors and two teams close in the standings. There was a little bit of a feeling-out process and getting used to the scenery and situation. Once it got going, we don't want to be blowing leads in the third period and it was very dramatic ending and a very exciting one and Auston Matthews, day-by-day, he seems to be getting better.
It's an emotional game too, and you saw that when I dropped the gloves with Steve Ott early in the third. We were yapping back and forth a little in the second and that fires you up. It was kind of brewing. First shift we were out there in the third, it escalated into a fight and continued with words in the penalty box, going back and forth a little. Emotion finally settled down and at the end of the day, he's been in the League a long time and he's a player I have respect for. Every time fans see that, they think these guys hate each other, but I've run into him plenty of times back home and he plays his role very well, effectively, and fights happen.
My biggest memory of this day is that we have a lot of family and friends in town and now we'll have a little reception. We don't get to see our families a lot at New Year's, and it's a special thing not only for us, but for them too.
You don't get to do these special games too often and you have to embrace these moments when you get them. We're happy we're going home with the win.