When the World Junior Championship came to Buffalo this past winter, Michael Broad took his then 14-year-old son, Ty, to Harborcenter for Sweden's tournament-opening contest against Belarus. Michael thought it was a good opporunity for Ty to see up close what players like Rasmus Dahlin and Alex Nylander were capable of.
"These guys are really only three, four years older than what Ty is right now and they're playing at that level," Michael said. "It's pretty cool to watch."
Imagine, then, what it must have been like for the younger Broad to share that same ice with Dahlin on Monday night. Dahlin and fellow first-round pick Casey Mittelstadt were surprise guests at the Fattey Hockey League playoffs, where Ty plays summer hockey.
Ty, a Sabres fan, arrived at the rink and found out he would be playing against two players he'll be rooting for come fall.
"I was like, 'Oh boy, this is going to be fun,'" he said.
The Fattey Hockey League, now in its 13th year, features a 10-team mix of junior, college and NHL players from the area. Patrick Kane is an alumnus, and this year's roster includes the likes of Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons and Los Angeles Kings forward Alex Iafallo.
Broad, 15, met the league's age requirement for the first time this season and was drafted onto the same team as Iafallo. Although he'd been around NHL players before - his coach with the Buffalo Junior Sabres is Michael Peca - the experience of actually playing alongside one was eye-opening.
"First game of the Fattey Hockey League, I was playing with Iafallo and he went end-to-end and scored," he said. "That was an eye opener for me, that that's what NHLers are capable of. My dream is to play in the NHL but to actually be in the same locker room with them and actually be on the ice as part of the same team, that was the coolest part of it."
Playing against Dahlin took that feeling to another level. Like most people in Buffalo, Michael and Ty will long remember exactly where they were when the Sabres won the NHL Draft Lottery - and the right to draft Dahlin - in May.
The father and son were visiting Chicago for a USHL Combine along with four of Ty's teammates and their parents. They were at McDonalds for an impromptu hamburger eating contest - they bought 50 burgers among them - when they remembered the lottery was being drawn.
"One of my friend's parents pulled it up on his phone and we watched the Draft Lottery as we were eating a bunch of cheeseburgers in the back of a McDonalds," Ty recalled.
"We were all going nuts," Michael said. "The parents, all the kids. There was eight of us. The whole restaurant was like, 'You guys are crazy.' We're sitting there watching a phone, jumping up and down on each other."
Monday was another night the Broads won't soon forget. Michael watched his son get chased around the ice by the No. 1 overall pick. Ty got a front-row ticket as Dahlin put his skills on display.
"He went end-to-end, dangled through our one defenseman and then went backhand upstairs," Ty said. "It was really cool. I was skating with one of their teammates and he was like, 'Yeah, that was really good.'"
By the end of the night, they were left with one more lasting memory. Broad scored a goal with Dahlin on the ice.
"We were down 3-0 in the third game and I beat Rasmus down the ice to get a breakaway pass and scored," he said. "It was awesome."