TORONTO – Matt Frattin got out just in time.
The rookie forward was recalled by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday afternoon and boarded a flight out of Oklahoma City a couple hours before his American Hockey League teammates experienced a 4.7-magnitude earthquake. They were quick to let him know what he missed out on.
“I got a bunch of texts,” Frattin said Tuesday before the Maple Leafs faced the Florida Panthers.
The earthquake was the third to hit Oklahoma in as many days. It was followed by severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings.
A couple Marlies players sent Twitter messages following the earthquake that shook their hotel at 8:46 p.m. local time on Monday:
—Luca Caputi: “Just felt a live earthquake in OKC… No lie!”
—Nazem Kadri: “Witnessed a live earthquake…#insane”
—Darryl Boyce: “survived my first earthquake here in OKC, not sure we can out run the tornado though….#naturaldisasters”
The players were still abuzz when they arrived at Cox Convention Center for a Tuesday morning game against the Oklahoma City Barons.
Many thought AHL scoring leader Joe Colborne would be the top candidate to replace Tim Connolly and get called up by the Maple Leafs, but he’s suffering from a lower-body injury—opening the door for Frattin to get his second shot with the big team.
The 23-year-old started the season with the Leafs and was sent down after registering just one assist in 11 games. He took the demotion in stride.
“I definitely took it as a positive thing,” said Frattin. “I needed a little more ice time and down there I was getting a lot more, I was playing a lot more power play. It was definitely a confidence booster and I felt really good out there.”
Most importantly, he finally found the back of the net.
Frattin was a scoring star in the NCAA—he had 36 goals in 44 games for the University of North Dakota last season—but his touch had deserted him since turning pro. Over his first 12 NHL games, he managed just one shootout goal.
The breakthrough came Sunday when he scored twice during a Marlies victory in Houston.
“I was just trying to put pucks on net and eventually one went in for me,” said Frattin. “It’s definitely good to get that monkey off the back a little bit, but you’ve got to do that now in the NHL.”
The expectations are clear for the fourth-round draft pick from 2007. The Leafs are looking for him to put up some offensive numbers.
“It would certainly help,” said coach Ron Wilson. “We need balanced scoring, we need three lines scoring at least. With him, we didn’t want to think that he couldn’t score at the professional level. …
“He got two the other night so we want to build on that right away.”