Toronto Is A Homecoming For Several Devils

ALBANY, NY — Hockey is Canada’s national pastime, so playing north of the border always adds a level of excitement, especially for Canadian-born players.

The Devils, who are about to embark on their Second Round series against the Toronto Marlies, have 13 Canadians on the roster, including six who were born in Ontario.

Games 1 and 2 at Ricoh Coliseum will be more of a business trip than a homecoming for those players and Head Coach Rick Kowalsky is making sure of it.

“It’s important and we addressed it at the beginning of the playoffs,” Kowalsky said. “Does it go to another level because we have a couple Toronto area or southern Ontario kids? Maybe, but I think now that we’re into the Second Round, guys understand the importance of focus and being together as a team on the road and at home.

“I think the focus and with the consistency of our games, there’s not a lot of time for extracurricular activities. In Toronto we have afternoon practices, so the day’s pretty full there. Relatives came here for the opening series and make trips to Utica. I think that’s part of it, but it’s something we addressed at the beginning of the series.”

Scott Wedgewood is one of those six players born in Ontario. His family is trying to stay out of his way as much as possible, allowing him to worry just about stopping the puck.

“My family has been great through my career, Wedgewood said. “They bought their own tickets and kept out of my hair, which has been nice with my family and friends. It isn’t a big deal, but it’s nice to have that support and, obviously, going to that building, it’ll be fun to play in front of people that haven’t been able to see me between the pipes in a long time. I’m excited for it, but the main focus here is to win hockey.”

Like Wedgewood, Joseph Blandisi, Brandon Burlon, Ryan Kujawinski, Matt Lorito and Ben Thomson were all born in Ontario.