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Transit, police prepare for influx of Leafs fans downtown after rare afternoon game

Last Updated Jan 2, 2019 at 8:29 pm EDT

Toronto fans at the first Maple Leafs home playoff game since 2004. Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

With the kids still out on holiday break, commuters have been getting a bit of a break when it comes to the evening trip home — but that may change Thursday thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs will play a rare afternoon game at the Scotiabank Arena which should end just as the afternoon rush hour begins.

Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins says they have been working closely with Toronto police, MLSE, the TTC and the city to prepare for the sellout crowd as it floods into Union Station and the surrounding area.

“Our goal is to ensure fans and commuters can safely navigate through Union Station when the game gets out during afternoon rush hour as there will be more than usual foot traffic in and around Union Station during that time,” Aikins said in a statement.

“People not requiring GO Transit service are asked to walk on Bay Street rather than go through Union Station. TTC customers can also walk to St. Andrew station and avoid Union Station.”

Toronto police will also shut down southbound Bay Street from Front around 4:30 p.m. for approximately an hour to accommodate the large amount of people leaving the arena.

Thousands of young hockey fans are expected to be in attendance at the Next Generation Game — which celebrates youth and the future of hockey.

“The Toronto Maple Leafs are proud to host the Next Generation Game to celebrate the youth in our community and encourage the next generation of fans to reach their hockey dreams,” Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said in a statement last month.

“With youth at the forefront of this special game, we look forward to uniting fans of all ages in celebration of our next generation from now until game day.”

The Leafs take on the Minnesota Wild at 2 p.m. and the game is expected to be a sellout.