Dateline January 3, 2010, Leafs Ice Center. Fresh off their victory at the Orland Park holiday tournament and riding a nine-game win streak, Coach Tony Bertuca’s GM Panthers 1 team were sharp and ready for action this afternoon. Starting the Sliwinski-Gulino-Bertuca line that performed so sharply over the holidays, the team looked to capitalize on a smaller, slower Leafs team. “Not only were they small and slow,” said one fan, “I think they are dulled by being coddled. Have you seen their facility? There are Olympic National teams that don’t have such nice ice. But they have it all. I think that probably costs them an edge.”
The Panthers got a huge chance for glory late in the second period, when the Leafs committed two quick fouls. With 3:36 on the clock, the Leafs had two men in the box and the Panthers had a 5-on-3 powerplay. Kruger, playing on a line with Gio Gulino, capitalized on the advantage with 17 seconds left in the second power play and 2:23 left in the second period to make it 5-1.