Minto — Back in December, The Manatee reported the story of local hockey stud Peter Leonard and his unlikely signing with the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs. Since then, the Leafs have gone from bad to worse, and on Monday they completely hit rock-bottom by losing an exhibition game to the Minto Memorial High School boys’ hockey team.
Interim head coach Peter Horachek tried to gain his team some much-needed confidence and came up with the idea to schedule a sure-win exhibition game against a willing school team. “We’ve been pretty sucky most of the season and we had to try something to turn our spirits around,” he told our sports reporter. “So, Pete said he had some contacts with his old high school back in Minto and could get us a game that would be an easy win and a big boost in morale.”
The matchup was originally set to be against the STU men’s team in Fredericton, but team officials cancelled for fear that Toronto’s bad hockey habits and poor morale would rub off on the Tommies. “We don’t want anything to do with those losers,” said Tommies captain Jeff Hanscomb. “Those guys are so terrible; we really had nothing to gain by playing them, so what’s the point?”
As soon as it was revealed that the university team was backing out, Terry Parker, head coach of the high school team in Minto, jumped at the opportunity. “Pete used to play for us, so I knew he was setting up a game in the city and when that fell through he sent me a text. I knew this would be great for the boys,” he explained, “and I knew we could beat them and show them what us guys are made of.”
Horachek could barely conceal his pleasure at the change of plans. “Honestly I was a little relieved to hear the news,” he confessed. “I wasn’t too sure if we’d be able to compete with the STU team. I was looking over their record and saw that they won 2 games this season and that’s about as good as we’ve been.”
The Minto boys were quick to spoil Horachek’s plan when they trounced the Leafs squad by a score of 8:1. “We kind of let up a little bit near the end because we were bored and that’s when they finally got one by us,” bragged Parker of his team’s victory. “They shouldn’t be too hard on themselves though, some of these boys have been playing hockey for 5, 6 years now — they know what they’re doing.”
The game featured a fight between Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf and the Minto’s Jim Hayes, which forced Phaneuf to leave the game midway through the second period with a broken jaw and in need of 42 stitches above his right eye. Leafs sniper Phil Kessel also left the game after being heckled by fans while in the penalty box in the third. “Those guys were being super mean to me,” said a wounded Kessel. “They were asking me things like ‘Are you ready for golf season?’ and stuff like that and saying that I was a crappy hockey player — which I’m not. I try really hard out there all the time and those kids hurt my feelings.”
After the game, The Manatee caught up with hometown hero-turned-embarrassment Peter Leonard, asking his take on the Leafs’ struggles. “I just want to apologize for all of the pain, suffering and humiliation I’ve caused my family,” said Leonard, hanging his head in shame. “We suck so bad. I really don’t know what else to say — I’m just glad Dad isn’t alive to see me playing for the Leafs.”