Night out in the cold worth it for diehard Leafs fans, as training camp underway

As the sign on the Paradise Double Ice Complex suggests, it really is “Leafs forever” for some diehard fans who lined up in the cold rain overnight for a chance at tickets.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are starting their training camp in N.L. Friday morning, with a pre-season game set for Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators.

The ticket giveaway for the training camp events started at 8 a.m., with a line of people anxious for a chance to see their beloved Leafs up close and personal.

Austin Bowring and Steven Rideout couldn’t miss the chance to see their team in their neck of the woods.

“We love the Leafs, and this is an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up,” Rideout said.

Steven Rideout and Austin Bowring are nursing students who skipped Friday’s classes, lining up the night before for a chance at Leafs training camp tickets. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

The two lined up outside at 10 p.m. Thursday just for the chance to get tickets.

“The weather’s not bad now, but last night it was wet, it was cold. We think in the end it’s gonna be well worth the wait,” said Bowring.

They couldn’t get tickets for the pre-season game against the Sens, but Bowring said they’ll take in the training camp Friday, and likely spend their night lined up again for tickets to Saturday’s event.

If they catch a cold in the weather, at least they’ll know what to do: Rideout and Bowring are nursing students at Memorial University.

“We’re missing class for this, but … please forgive us, all our professors at MUN,” said Bowring with a laugh. “This is really important to us. We’ll make it up somehow.”

The Leafs Nation is made up of “diehard Leafs fans” like Derek Falls, who flew into St. John’s from Brantford, Ont., with friends who are all in town for the Leafs training camp.

This is his second consecutive year following the training camp.

“We plan on doing it continuously every year after this, yes. It’s a very great time,” he said.

As for why he’d take such a trip for the training camp, Falls said it’s well worth it for the experience.

“It’s personal. You get up close with the players and it’s just so enjoyable for everybody,” he said, adding that it’s also a good chance for a little vacation, and he plans to take on the role of tourist when he’s not taking in Leafs events.

“It’s our first time down in Newfoundland, so we’re pretty excited about it.”

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