TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.— It happened so fast that most fans at the Traverse City Prospects tournament missed it.
Maple Leafs prospect Nick Abruzzese (Slate Hill, N.Y.) collected a pass atop the crease, then instantly chopped from backhand to forehand to shelf, leaving Blues goalie Will Cranley poised for the backhand as Abruzzese celebrated. There is no jumbotron in Traverse City, so the majority of potential witnesses were left in the dark. Abruzzese joined his mates in a conga line at the Toronto bench, and the moment passed.
Of the dozen former NCAA players populating the prospects rosters in Traverse City, Abruzzese is the only one who missed an entire season of hockey in 2020-21. It was due neither to injury nor massive supplemental discipline.
It was due to the fact that Abruzzese played for Harvard, one of six Division 1 Ivy League schools who shut down their season due to COVID-19 protocol.