All in the Family: Foligno Style

All in the Family: Foligno Style

It had the makings of one of those sappy made-for-TV Christmas movies we see this time of year.

Younger brother makes his NHL debut against older brother, with proud Dad and 30 other family members sitting in the stands.

Except for the Foligno family, it was all too real.

Or, rather “unreal”, as 20-year-old Marcus Foligno of the Buffalo Sabres said Tuesday about facing his 24-year-old brother Nick Foligno of the Ottawa Senators. Father Mike Foligno, fired a few weeks ago as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks, was part of the huge Foligno-clan which made the trek from Sudbury to take it all in.

“It’s probably the best Christmas present we’ve ever got,” said Nick Foligno, who is two inches shorter and five pounds lighter than his younger brother, but is clearly the bigger talker of the two. “We feel like my mom had something to do with that.”

Janis Foligno died of breast cancer in 2009, bringing an already tight family even closer together.

It’s intriguing that all the stars seemed to align, including an injury-riddled Buffalo lineup, prompting the Sabres to recall the younger Foligno from the Rochester Amerks of the American Hockey League. He made the long trek from Houston to Rochester to Ottawa on Monday and when he arrived here, Nick was waiting for him at the team hotel, offering congratulations for finally making it to the big leagues, along with a brotherly hug. Nick has readily offered advice along the way, trying to help Marcus in his development.

“It’s a pretty neat opportunity for both of us and we’ve been so fortunate,” said Nick. “I was able to play against my Dad last year (when Anaheim visited Scotiabank Place) and especially for (Marcus’s) first game, against me.

“It’s awesome. I was talking about it all day (Monday). And I’m surprised how quickly 30 people can drop everything and get to a game. My aunts, my uncles, my grandmother (my mom’s mother), friends and other family. They just dropped everything.”

While Nick Foligno is having a breakout season, with 10 goals and 10 assists before Tuesday’s game, showcasing both skill and feistiness, Marcus is a power forward type, perhaps best known for his standout play for at the 2011 world junior championships.

Surrounded by reporters and cameras Tuesday, he quipped that the attention was “like world junior.”

“Nick was pretty pumped,” said Marcus, with a smile. “Nick’s excited, I think he’s a little more excited than I am. It’s awesome. It’s kind of unreal how it works out to be like this. My first NHL game and against my brother. It’s crazy how all this stuff happens and it happens for a reason. It’s exciting for the family.”

DUCHESNE RETURNS: Former Senators defenceman Steve Duchesne, best known for scoring the game winning goal against the Buffalo Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek which sent the team into the playoffs for the first time in 1997, was back making the rounds of Scotiabank Place Tuesday, as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations.

“Alfie is the only guy who was with me in those days, so I’m getting old,” he said. “Remembering this goal that sent us to the playoffs and even in the playoffs (also against Buffalo) I thought we played really well and it went seven games. We could have beat them, too. I remember playing with Hasek later on and winning the Stanley Cup together with Detroit, I kept teasing him about that famous goal. It was great, I tell you. It was fantastic. I remember everybody jumping up in the air and kissing a bunch of guys that night and it was just a great feeling. Other than winning the Cup, really, it was one of the most memorable times that I had in my career.”

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