There they stood side-by-side on the ice that, a few hours later, was going to be hauled away out the back of the Vivint Smart Home Arena. There’s a preseason basketball game scheduled to be played here Saturday night. So for those two national anthems, for “O Canada” and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Trevor Lewis and Daniel Brickley had plenty of time to appreciate the rarity of this snapshot.
Two hometown kids suddenly on hometown ice starting together in front of a hometown crowd ready to welcome Utah’s finest for the night’s festivities. On this night, the hardwood could wait. On this night, it was all ice. It was all about Utah’s hockey community coming out in full force, donning jerseys from Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Ottawa, Anaheim and Montreal.
“It was pretty electric out there,” Brickley said. “I hope we entertained the folks that came. Everything I expected and some.”
The loudest roars — there were plenty in L.A.’s 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks — came for Lewis and Brickley, two lifelong family friends whose paths once again intertwined this spring when the Kings won out by signing Brickley, the former Skyline High School star turned prized free agent out of college. If you aren’t familiar with the story, here’s a swift synopsis:
Their dads are local rec hockey league legends around these parts. Randy Lewis and Matt Brickley, two guys in love with hockey whose sons followed in their footsteps, but one-upped their fathers in the most epic of ways. They made it. They went pro. And together. Separated by eight years, sure, but when the Kings signed Daniel Brickley, there was Trevor Lewis, the two-time Stanley Cup Final-winning vet, ready to show the kid the ropes. He still is.
They are, in a sense, at opposing ends of their careers.
There’s Lewis, a hardened NHL vet, who has felt firsthand what reaching the pinnacle of professional sport feels like. How many guys get to bring the Stanley Cup back to their hometowns? Monday night’s assist in the rout over the Canucks was certainly sweet for him.
“Looking around seeing a lot of familiar faces,” Lewis said afterward, “it was pretty fun.”
And there’s Brickley, a 6-foot-3 defenseman doing everything he can, clawing away at trying to prove to L.A. coach John Stevens and the Kings front office that the flier they took on him a few months ago was worth it. That — fingers crossed — Brickley can make the Kings when they decide who makes the regular-season roster in the 24 hours or so after the final preseason game on Saturday back in Southern California.
“That’s my main focus now,” he said recently, “to make it through training camp and try and prove to myself that I’m capable of being an NHL player — and try to help the Kings win a Stanley Cup.”
Has Brickley shown enough to make the team in the eyes of one of the team’s key figures?
“Yeah, I mean, he looks good out there,” Lewis said. “He’s got a lot of poise. He’s a big guy, he moves his feet well. I thought he looked good tonight.”
On Monday night inside an arena of 12,367 fans in downtown Salt Lake City, this was all a precursor to the stressful days and weeks ahead with another NHL season just around the bend. It was, however, more about those three periods in front of their neighbors and family members who flew in from out of town, about playing out this magical night that began with each player on the ice, standing next to one another, ready to play a home game like no other.