|Forward Mike Fisher, right, a close friend to Chris Neil, left, and his family, spoke about the attitudes of the players during what turned out to be a 5-3 win during a tragic day.
Teammates rally in support of Neil
The Ottawa Senators wanted to put in a hard-working effort against the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night after learning just a few hours earlier that teammate Chris Neil had lost his mother Bonnie in a single-vehicle car accident.
Forward Mike Fisher, a close friend to Neil and his family, spoke about the attitudes of the players during what turned out to be a 5-3 win during a tragic day.
"When things like that happen it really shows you how important family and relationships are. We played for Neiler and his family. He's the heart and soul of our team. He always gives his best, that's what we wanted to do. She was so proud of what Chris has done. I felt tonnes of different emotions (during the game) but I tried to channel them."
Fisher said Mrs. Neil reminded him a lot of his mother.
"I knew her pretty well and she was a huge part of that family. She was an unbelievable person. It's hard to put in words all she has done for Chris and his family. That family is so close. I see a lot of my mom in her, and it's tough to see what Chris is going through. I can't imagine it. It breaks your heart."
Captain Daniel Alfredsson said the Senators were motivated to play well for the Neil family Tuesday night.
"It was a hard day for all of us. We felt for him. In respect to the family, the best thing we could do was focus and play hard to win."
Senators coach Bryan Murray said it was a very quiet ride to the arena prior to the game.
"Chris has been here a while. You build bonds and you become brothers, really. It really struck home. We all owe an awful lot to our parents. They take us to the rinks early in the morning, carry our kit bags to the car...."
The memorial service will take place Saturday, Nov. 26, at 11 a.m. at St. John's United Church in Flesherton, Ont.
Memorial donations can be made to:
Flesherton Minor Sports
(please indicate if the donation is to go to hockey, baseball or figure skating)
c/o Fawcett Funeral Home
1 Highland Drive
or to your local branch of the Canadian Cancer Society.
Schubert joins McGrattan on goal scorers list
With Neil flying home Tuesday from Carolina, defenceman Christoph Schubert was employed as a fourth-line forward on an emergency basis.
Some of the scoring prowess from linemate Brian McGrattan must have rubbed off. Just like McGrattan had done in the previous game against New Jersey, Schubert scored his first NHL goal against the Hurricanes.
"I didn't know what happened," he said of the play. "Somehow I saw the puck go in. I was just trying to make a pass to Kels (Chris Kelly) in front. I am happy; I don't care how they go in. I'll do anything I can to play and do the best I can. I'm a defenceman but I will do what the coach asks me to do."
Murray was pleased with Schubert's initial experience at playing forward.
"His skating ability allows him to get up and down the ice. That line gave us energy when we needed it early in the game."
Schubert was informed he would play during the bus ride from the hotel. He was later told during the walk from the bus to the visitors' dressing room he would skate up front.
The native of Germany didn't look out of place with his first-period goal coming after another glorious chance he had on a two-on-one earlier on. He was asked if he's had experience as a forward before.
"I played about 10 years ago. We won one game all year. We were the worst team in the league. They put me up front for a game to see what I could do."
Schubert says despite his early success he'll keep his style of play simple if used up front again.
"Just get the puck in deep, chase it down, finish checks and shoot the puck," he said.
The rookie was so excited that he had to call someone after game.
"I called my parents. It was 4 a.m. for them because they're in the middle of a cruise. My dad was pretty pumped."
Murray pleased with closing of Hurricanes game
Murray was happy to see his team finally win after three straight nail-biters with the Carolina Hurricanes this season.
"We hung on mentally and played like a desperate team late in the game. We did a good job with the puck. Sometimes when you're up 4-1, it's not hard to be a good player. I wanted to see what we were like 3-3 in the third period. Dom shut the door, our defence picked it up and our forwards found a way to score. That speaks of our character."
A key to the victory was the play of Mike Fisher who finished as the first star of the game with a goal and two assists. He also led the team in power-play minutes.
"I bragged a bit on his behalf after he had a good camp," Murray said. "He struggled a bit after that, but in the last four or five games, he's really come back."