TORONTO - The advertised start of Tuesday’s Leafs prospects scrimmage game was 10 a.m.
But the puck drop at the MasterCard Centre was a scene right out of High Noon or 3:10 To Yuma. Glaring at each other, opposing Blue and White team wingers Tyler Biggs and David Broll shed the gauntlets right away, the first of two scraps for The Brolldozer.
The two 25-minute halves also featured some big hits and crease collisions as the youngest Leafs showed the assembled hockey office they’ve been reading up on the parent team’s need for nasty.
“It was great to have old-school hockey,” said Broll, a sixth-round pick two years ago. “You can never go wrong with a little mix-up here and there.
“I just got asked to go (by Biggs). It was to set the tone in camp and I had a little fun with it. I want to play a little role player here and there.”
Broll later went at it with David Wolf, an invitee enforcer-type from the Hamburg Freezers of the German League. That challenge caught the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Broll by surprise.
“There was a little battle on the sideboards and he just tapped me on the pads,” Broll said. “I’d never even heard of (Wolf). But he’s a pretty big boy and it was good for him to get it going.”
Both Broll’s bouts were scored as draws.
Former coach Ron Wilson detested staged fighting at camp and while Randy Carlyle hasn’t been polled on the subject yet, he prefers more edge on his team. With the Leafs missing the playoffs again, Carlyle’s first camp in September is bound have a rogue element so these kids just figured they’d start a couple of months early to try and get a spot.
Leafs player development director Jim Hughes turned a bit of a blind eye to Tuesday’s extracurriculars.
“We certainly don’t promote it,” Hughes said. “But these guys understand that they’re showcasing themselves to try to create impressions for all our management team that’s here watching. There’s intensity in the air and we’re looking for people who want to play hard and guys who play with great desire and determination.
“We want guys to play hockey, make plays and use their assets, whatever they may be. Broll was very effective today and I’m not talking about the fights. When he has the puck, he protects it and buys time and space for himself. He uses his point men effectively.”
Two players to watch as Wednesday and Thursday’s scrimmage games unfold are the Rupert twins, forwards from the London Knights. Ryan who was drafted in the sixth round last month and Matt, brought here to spice up his brother and camp as a whole. The Dale Hunter disciples combined for nearly 200 OHL penalty minutes last season. They were on the same line for the Blues on Tuesday, before the Whites ran away with a 4-1 win on two goals by Knights’ teammate Greg McKegg.
Ryan did not go looking to fight any behemoths on Tuesday, a decision that is just as smart in the eyes of the Leafs scouts.
“You think about it in the back of your head, but with my (size), I’m not going to take on the biggers guys. But I’m going to work my hardest and if it comes, I’m not going to back down, I’m going to go for it. We (Ruperts) are gritty players and we can’t stop. If it come to fighting, we’re not going to back down. I like fighting.
“Dale talked to me before I came down here. He said, ‘make an impression, because a first impression is always a good thing they notice’. ”
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Ryan and Matt Rupert said life in the Hunter abode the past year and a half was like a 24/7 coaching clinic, with the NHL legend giving them plenty to think about at the rink and off the ice. The Knights, co-owned by Dale and brother Mark, went to the Memorial Cup final this past year, with both agitators playing a role bigger than their 5-foot-9 envelope.
“Living with him is a great experience,” said Ryan, a 2012 Leafs pick, whose brother was invited to the Leafs’ prospect camp as well. “It was eat dinner and watch hockey every night, TSN and all the games. Once in awhile, we’d go on YouTube and watch his old clips.”
The Ruperts moved in with Hunter in the 2010-11 season when their first billet family didn’t work out.
“He’ll be coaching us the whole day,” Matt said. “He’ll go up to the TV and point out plays, what they had done wrong and correct us.
He’s the type of player I’d like to be, gritty, get-in-their-face.
“Our basement is full of London Knights’ stuff and a little bit of Washington Capitals (where Dale played and coached last year).”