Young Maple Leafs fan meets Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner after traveling to Tampa to see them play

A young Toronto Maple Leafs fan made the long journey to Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, Tuesday night to see his two favorite players, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, take on the Lightning. 

But the two star forwards were sitting out to rest ahead of the playoffs. 

Auston Matthews, right, of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a goal against the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Arena March 13, 2023, in Toronto. 

Auston Matthews, right, of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a goal against the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Arena March 13, 2023, in Toronto.  (Michael Chisholm/NHLI via Getty Images)

Blake held up a sign behind the glass saying he had made the trip to Florida “to see my heroes play,” referencing No. 34 and No. 16. 

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Just before the game, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe announced Matthews and Marner would not be playing.

The image of young Blake went viral on social media, and apparently it reached the right people. 

Mitchell Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during Game 7 of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena May 14, 2022, in Toronto. 

Mitchell Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during Game 7 of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena May 14, 2022, in Toronto.  (Claus Andersen/Getty images)

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The Maple Leafs posted a video after the game showing both Matthews and Marner meeting with Blake, signing his poster and a hockey stick and posing for a quick picture. 

On top of walking away with an unforgettable experience, Blake saw his team defeat the Lightning 4-3 before they travel to New York to take on the Rangers Thursday night. 

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Auston Matthews, right, of the Toronto Maple Leafs talks with teammate Mitch Marner during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena May 14, 2022, in Toronto. 

Auston Matthews, right, of the Toronto Maple Leafs talks with teammate Mitch Marner during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena May 14, 2022, in Toronto.  (Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Maple Leafs will face the Lightning again in the playoffs. Tampa Bay beat Toronto in the first round of last season’s playoffs en route to its third straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

 

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