Hockey fans in Paradise, N.L. buzzing with excitement over Leafs training camp
Fans watch the Toronto Maple Leafs practice at the training camp in Paradise, N.L., on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, September 14, 2019 3:10PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 14, 2019 5:58PM EDT
PARADISE, N.L. - It's a hockey fan's paradise this weekend as the Toronto Maple Leafs hold their annual training camp in Paradise, N.L.
Fans lined up around the block in the early hours of Friday and Saturday to snag free tickets to practices and scrimmages at the Paradise Double Ice Complex, about 20 minutes west of St. John's.
As events wrapped up on Saturday afternoon, fans shared excitement over the chance to watch their favourite players.
Decked out in blue and white jerseys, Cory Mitchell and Jennifer Mitchell were at the arena with their twin baby boys, Austin and Clarke, named after Leafs players Auston Matthews and Wendel Clark.
“The Leafs are in town, (we) just had to come out today to make sure they were a part of it,” Cory Mitchell said of his sons' early introduction to Maple Leafs fandom.
Excitement grew over the weekend with news of forward Mitch Marner's six-year contract, averaging more than US$10 million annually. Marner joined his teammates on Saturday afternoon.
Mitchell commented on the positive buzz and excitement around town with the beloved team visiting the Rock.
“Seems like everybody here in Newfoundland is enjoying them being here, myself included and these guys as well,” he said.
The Maple Leafs thanked local fans for their “incredible support” on their official Twitter account Saturday, posting videos of the long lines in Paradise and of the “full house” inside the arena.
Matthews told reporters on Friday he was enjoying the province and meeting the fans, though he admitted to some struggle understanding local accents and slang.
The training camp in Paradise runs until Sunday afternoon, ending with a community barbecue before an alumni game Sunday evening. The team will also play a sold-out exhibition game in St. John's on Tuesday.