Friday can’t come soon enough for goalie Brett Leggat and the Brantford Blast.
That’s when the Blast will open their Allan Cup Hockey season against the Whitby Dunlops at the civic centre at 7:30 p.m. after a hiatus of more than a year.
“I’m excited,” said Leggat.
“I’m excited for the fans and I’m excited for our team to get there and have a home game.
“Brantford was the first team I played for back in 2005. Pulling that Blast jersey on again will feel great. I’m really looking forward to it.”
It’s been more than a year since the Blast have been on the civic centre ice.
Original owner Peter Ham sold the team to a group from Stoney Creek in September, 2018, too late for Brantford to play in the league last season.
So, the Blast took a one-year leave of absence. The team’s players were selected by the other ACH members in a dispersal draft, with the intention that the players would return to Brantford for the 2019-20 season.
This past summer it was announced that Stoney Creek would move its operations to Brantford and that the Generals and Blast would be combined into one team.
Leggat, who played last season in Stoney Creek, is happy that the civic centre once again will be home. He said fans won’t be disappointed.
“It’s arguably the most talented team in Canada, in senior A. I’ve got a chance to practice with these guys once a week and be involved with them last season. There’s just no weakness,” he said.
“There’s four impressively talented forward lines and they have six or eight fantastic defencemen who can move the puck (and who) are great defensively.
“I think the fans are going to be in for a treat.”
The majority of this year’s roster comprises players who played for Stoney Creek in the past but former Blast players, such as Joel Prpic, Chris Rebernik, Doug Clarkson and Paul McIlveen, also are back.
“It’ll be nice to see the former Blast guys playing with the Blast again,” said Leggat.
Leggat, a member of Brantford’s 2008 Allan Cup Canadian senior A champions, said the players from Stoney Creek are looking forward to playing at the civic centre.
“Talking to the guys on Stoney Creek, they told me they absolutely loved coming to Brantford to play as an away team because of the atmosphere there and the crowd was loud,” he said.
“In my opinion, it’s the best rink in Canada to play a senior A game.”
For Leggat, last year was somewhat of a down season. Although the Generals went 18-5-1, Leggat played in just seven games, going 4-1-1 with a 4.83 goals against average and .877 save percentage.
“It wasn’t, personally, a great year for me,” he said.
“I only ended up getting seven games and, out of those, I had a couple of rough starts that were back to back.
“It was a great year for our team.”
The Generals wound up winning the ACH championship but, after capturing the Canadian championship in 2018, they lost in the national semifinals last year.
Leggat would like to play as much as possible this season behind starter Ryan DeMelo, who posted a record of 13-2 with a 3.53 GAA and .899 save percentage.
“As it stands right now, I anticipate it to be Demelo’s net and I’ll be ready to go when called upon.”
Leggat, 38, said his plan is to be a part of the Blast for the foreseeable future.
“I’ve been really lucky in terms of my body feeling like it did when I was 28,” he said.
“I don’t know how many years I have left but I truly still enjoy going to the rink. For me, I hope that my body holds up.
“As long as I’m having fun and can still play at a high level like this, I’m down.”
ICE CHIPS . . . The Blast have invited children enrolled in the local Strong Start to Reading program to attend Friday’s game as their guests . . . There are four teams in ACH this season. The Hamilton Steelhawks make their season debut on Oct. 18 at the civic centre at 7:30 p.m. against the Blast while the Dundas Real McCoys also make their season debut at the civic centre on Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m.