TRENTON – Ross Colton had decided he would throw from the mound for his first ceremonial pitch.
Not only did the Tampa Bay Lightning forward and Robbinsville native make the throw from 60-foot-6, he fired it right in the middle for a strike.
“I grew up playing baseball and also came to Thunder games all the time, so it’s pretty special to be there and see my family in the crowd,” said Colton, who wore a custom #79 Thunder jersey. the team presented to him. “I was teasing with my family that I was going to throw it off the mound and they all thought I was going to bounce it. I had a hitch before I came. I’m not going to lie, I had to knock my throw down and I said I had to make my pitch.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ross Colton, a native of Robbinsville, right in the middle pic.twitter.com/Kt6ZatW2X0
— Kyle Franko (@kj_franko) August 18, 2022
The Stanley Cup winner was at the Trenton Thunder Ballpark to take part in the team’s annual hockey night on Thursday where he signed autographs and posed for photos.
“To be able to develop the game in any way possible because when I was younger there wasn’t a lot of hockey,” Colton said. “I remember going to the Trenton Titans games and that’s how I got in there. Just for young kids who still want to play, there are guys here and you just have to go through the process and keep playing.
Colton, 25, was the Lightning’s fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft and made his NHL debut in the 2020-21 season. He ended his rookie campaign with a highlight that will last a lifetime when he scored the only goal in the decisive Tampa Cup win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Colton had 22 goals and 17 assists in 79 games this season, then appeared in all 23 of the Lightning’s playoff games as they lost to the Colorado Avalanche in six games in the Stanley Cup Finals.
“It’s a great organization and such a great city with the fans,” Colton said. “Living in Florida, over time, when you’re not at the rink, playing golf or laying by the pool, so there could be worse places to play. My first two years were so amazing to be part of the Cup and to be in the final this year was so exciting for me.
Growing up in Robbinsville, Colton was a huge Devils fan. He remembers all about the team’s run to the 2012 Cup Finals which ultimately ended in a Game 6 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
“Not anymore, though. I can’t be a fan,” Colton laughed. “It’s always special when we play there. When we played there this year, I brought a group of family and friends. It’s the only date on the calendar that I always circle because it means a lot.
Colton even provided a scouting report on new recruit Ondrej Palat, his former Tampa teammate whom the Devils signed to a five-year, $30 million deal.
“He’s one of those guys who can do it all in any situation,” Colton said. “In the playoffs, if we needed a big hit, a big goal, someone to kill a penalty or be there at the end of the game, it’s him. He’s someone who will show up every night and give 100%.
Would Colton consider donning the Devils jersey?
“I love being in Tampa right now and it’s one of the coolest places to play,” Colton said. “I just grew up as a Devils fan. I loved the Devils. During the 2012 Cup run, my brother and I loved every home game. We were die-hard fans. I understand it’s a business, but later, if I could put the sweater on one day, that would be awesome.