With no hockey for weeks, I have started to think about my most memorable hockey memories which then led to watching some old clips of the Maple Leafs 1993 playoff run. At the time I would have been 14, and many of the victories and defeats during that playoff run have remained with me all these years later.
The first round series against the Detroit Red Wings was the most connected/excited I probably was as a young fan. There were the deep lows of watching Doug Gilmour and his Maple Leafs lose the first two games in Detroit by a 12-5 deficit. Then came the extreme highs of the Maple Leafs winning the next two in Toronto as the Maple Leafs only allowed 4 goals across games 3 & 4.
Then came one the most memorable goal calls of that entire playoff run, as Joe Bowen’s screaming goal-call “Michael Foligno!” If you close your eyes, you can still see Foligno take his memorable double leap as he scored the 5-4 overtime winner, in an extremely hostile Joe Louis Arena, for a 3-2 series lead. What made game five so special was the comeback the Maple Leafs were able to complete after finding themselves down 4-1 at one point.
After the loss in game six back on home ice, the Maple Leaf were set for one of the best playoff wins in recent memory. Late in the third period, The Maple Leafs were down 3-2. Queue the heroics, as Wendel Clarke chased down a loose puck in the corner behind the goal line in the Red Wings end, he then threw it out in front of the net- right to Doug Gilmour. Tie Game! 3-3, with 2:43 to go in the third period.
This set the scene for one of the biggest and most memorable goals in Maple Leafs lore. With Gilmour, Bob Rouse and Nikolai Borschevsky on the ice, a dump in by Rouse ended up on Gilmour’s stick, then back to Rouse at the top right circle. Rouse fired a slap-pass along the ice to the top of the crease where Borschevsky tipped the puck into an open net; 4-3 Maple Leafs, in Game Seven, and in the series.
My brother and I lost it, the amount of screaming and jubliation that took place in our parent’s garage has stayed with me for years. The moment Borchevsky’s tipped puck passed the goal was probably the moment my fandom was cemented forever. It is still up there as one of my most memorable sporting moments, I am so grateful that I was able to share it with my brother as it continues to be spoken about as we discuss some of the best sporting moments we have witnessed together.
The Maple Leafs went on to the Stanley Cup semi-finals losing in controversial fashion to the Los Angeles Kings in seven games. But looking back, I will forever have a romanticized memory of not only of what was but also what could have been had Kerry Fraser caught the Gretzky high stick on Doug Gilmour in game 6 of the semi-final series.
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