BOSTON – The ripple effect of Matt Fraser’s overtime goal—and the tasty frozen treat the young Bruins forward enjoyed after being summoned from the minors—reached new, strange places Friday.
Suddenly frozen yogurt was trending on Twitter in Boston. And the Bruins were heaving a sigh of relief after pulling even with the Canadiens at two games apiece.
Fraser, a 23-year-old winger from Red Deer, Alta., ended a 0-0 deadlock at the Bell Centre on Thursday with his first ever playoff goal 79 seconds into overtime.
Rather than a rags-to-riches story, his is a burrito-and-frozen yogurt-fuelled journey back to the big league.
In a post-game interview on the ice seconds after scoring the winning goal, he mentioned his choice of dessert after getting the big-league call.
“I’d just finished eating lunch,” Fraser told NBC’s Pierre McGuire. “I mean I didn’t tell anyone but I’d just had frozen yogurt too so I’m working that off today.”
In a sports world where too often athletes are taking one game at a time or giving 110 per cent, it was a welcome, straight-from-the-heart real-life moment.
A playoff hero was born. And suddenly Beantown was yogurt-ville.
“Dear Matt Fraser, Please keep eating frozen yogurt, Sincerely, Bruins Fans #GoBruins #frozenyogurt,” tweeted Olympic figure skater Alex Shibutani, a Boston native.
“Tonight, we are all frozen yogurt eaters. #Bruins #Fraser,” tweeted David S. Bernstein, a contributing editor for Boston magazine.
Reporters wasted no time getting the skinny in the locker-room.
The lunch was at Chipotle and Fraser was reportedly munching on a double chicken burrito with guacamole and no cheese.
“New kid on the guac,” was the Boston Herald’s online headline.
The Mexican food chain got a few shoutouts from Fraser’s heroics too. A story on NBC Sports’ website, for example, was headlined “From Chipotle to playoff heroics: Matt Fraser etches name in history.”
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton was oblivious of the trending food topics. But apprised of the story, he noted there was a Chipotle “halfway home from Wilmington (where the team training facility is).”
“So he’s not the first guy to eat there,” he said.
In the cool light of day Friday, Fraser was happy, tired and humble as he was mobbed by reporters in the Bruins locker-room after some of his teammates took part in an optional skate at TD Garden.
He had also had a few second thoughts about his spur of the moment food revelations.
“I was kind of thinking of that comment last night, like ‘God, that probably sounded really stupid,'” he confessed with a laugh.
He said he wasn’t too concerned about superstitions, before adding “Maybe I”ll wander over to Pinkberry later.”
Fraser offered another endearing tidbit when he described the wild celebratory scrum after the OT goal.
“Actually (Johnny) Boychuk was holding me up and he was yelling at me not to fall because everybody was going to fall on us,” he said.
Coach Claude Julien, meanwhile, nearly swallowed his tongue when a reporter asked him if Fraser would be back in the lineup for Game 5 Saturday.
“I think you’ll see him in the next game for sure,” said Julien, his eyes rolling like one of the Three Stooges. “He’s in.”
For Julien, Fraser provided some welcome chemistry on the Bruins’ third line with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. The three had played together during Fraser’s 14-game stint with Boston during the regular season.
“He’s a good player,” Julien said. “We’ve always liked his skating abilities, his shooting abilities, his skill levels have been good. He’s gone back (to the minors), worked hard and earned his return.”
Fraser, who came from Dallas in the July 2013 Tyler Seguin trade, has three goals, two assists and 10 penalty minutes in his 27 career regular-season games with the Stars and Bruins.
As for the bigger picture, the Bruins coach believes his team has more to give.
“We’ve been better, there’s no doubt,” he acknowledged. “I don’t think our team is playing badly at all. I just know that our team is still capable of playing a little bit better than what we have and have shown so far.”
That includes the top line of David Krejci, Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic, which has had little impact in the series so far.
Julien, somewhat kindly, talked of the line needing to find its rhythm again.
“They’re working hard, it’s just a matter of time now,” he said.
He also distanced himself from those who have said goalie Tuukka Rask, in the face of inspired play by Montreal’s Carey Price at the other end of the rink, was not at his best in the first three games of the series.
“I’m not on the same page as everybody else,” he said.
“He has no confidence issues,” he added of his Finnish goalie. “He’s hard on himself but he never gets rattled that way. If anything, he shows a lot of resiliency and determination to be better and that’s what he did (Thursday).”
Rask leads all goaltenders in the playoffs with a 1.67 goals-against average, .941 save percentage and two shutouts (tied with Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury) in nine appearances.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Fraser is the third player in Bruins history to score in his Stanley Cup playoff debut, following Mel Hill in 1939 and Don Gallinger in 1943. And he is the sixth player in the last 75 years to score his first career post-season goal in a 1-0 overtime game, joining Mikael Granlund (2014), Andrei Zyuzin (1998), Ruslan Fedotenko (2002), Niko Dimitrakos (2004) and Ryan O’Reilly (2010).
Only Fraser and Dimitrakos scored such a goal in their playoff debut.