I had never been to a Defending The Blue Line charity hockey game before. It is a yearly game with the proceeds going towards helping military families get their kids into hockey. They help with equipment and many other things. The game is usually pretty well NHL stacked with a few Military members thrown in. I decided to take my brother and my 6 year old nephew with me down early in order to get in line for the Autograph session. Drew, my nephew, had a mini Wild goalie stick he brought to have signed. We had to wait in line for an hour and my nephew was so very patient. As, we came into the room where the players were, we both got a little excited. First stop was Wild goalie, Josh Harding. I forget everything I wanted to say to him and stammered out, ” I came all the way from Mankato to see you.” Mankato is only 90 miles away. I wanted to tell him how much I admired his strength and courage but that one line was all I got out. He signed my picture and the stick and was very nice and sweet to both my nephwe and myself. The other 2 really nice players that stood out to me were Matt Hendricks, of the Preds, and Nick Bjugstad, of the Panthers. Both smiled and talked to my nephew. I did manage to put my foot in my mouth one more time, though. I told Nate Prosser, Wild Defenseman, that I hoped to see him on the ice more this coming season. Now, I am sure he would have liked to have played more last season but we had so many guys that he ended up sitting out most of the time. I felt bad later when I thought about it. Luckily, he was super nice.
After the autographs, it was game time. I really did not care who won but was surprised to see Josh Harding playing as a forward and not a goalie. In my opinion, he needs to really stick to goalie. Ha Ha! There were no power plays instead penalty shots were given. I admit to sometimes only watching the big name stars but here I got to see others I never normally do which was cool. Eric Boulton, New York Islanders, seemed to be lighting up the ice. Every time I heard his name, I could not help but think of Michael Bolton. When the first period came to an end, that is when the coolest thing happened. Mike Condon, playing goalie for the USA team, skated over to a little boy in front of me and gave him his stick. This little boy could not have been older than 4 and the stick was 4 times his size. I had to laugh. It was the cutest thing.The other thing I found endearing was my nephew excitedly showing off his stick and telling everyone that he got ALL the players to sign it. In fact, when he got home, he had his dad hang it on his bedroom wall. The game was fun and my nephew and I made a memory that will never fade. That in itself, was worth the price of admission and more. Would I go again? Already planning for next year and you can bet Drew will be with me.
You can find the DTBL web site at: http://defendingtheblueline.org/
Photo By:Rachel Roemer