Anaheim Ducks prospect Chase De Leo turned 25 on Sunday and the La Mirada, California native took to Twitter and shared a memory of how he spent his birthday 20 years earlier: at the Pond, watching his favorite team, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
20 years ago today at the Pond, time flies. Enjoy every single day! pic.twitter.com/SHcvibO2Bl— Chase De Leo (@Dels9) October 25, 2020
I’ll forgive him for being a little bit off — in addition to the “Chase Deleo’s (sic) 5th B-Day Bash” message on the jumbotron, we can see that it’s a game between the Ducks and the Edmonton Oilers, a game that took place on October 27, 2000, not October 25. Regardless, I love a good hometown story and this one is pretty cute.
The photo was taken prior to the third period of the game. Oilers winger Ryan Smyth had two seconds left on a slashing penalty he took at the end of the second period, and a 24-year-old Matt Cullen had scored the only goal of the game so far, putting the Ducks up 1-0.
At this point, the game had already seen 30 penalty minutes handed out, including five-minute majors to Jason Marshall (MDA) and Dan LaCouture (EDM) for fighting. The third period opened with Oilers center Brian Swanson (whose NHL career was just 70 games across four seasons) taking a penalty for abuse of officials. Still, the Oilers quickly tied up the game. A pair of goals from (who else?) Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya put the Ducks back on top. Doug Weight got the Oilers within one, but with less a minute to go, they couldn’t tie it up and the Ducks win, 3-2.
As far as birthday games go, it probably couldn’t have been better than that.
De Leo may have been drafted by the Winnipeg Jets at 99th overall in 2014, but even there, he couldn’t avoid his Southern California roots — he made his NHL debut with the Jets on March 20, 2016, against the Ducks. Though that game was at Bell MTS Place, the Ducks also won 3-2. He got to come home on June 30, 2018, when the Ducks acquired the center in exchange for Nic Kerdiles.
Happy birthday, Chase! Sorry you couldn’t spend this one at the Ponda Center.