Better than a “Pot o’ Gold!”

From Staff Reports

Some 4, 5, and 6 year-old hockey players in Ashburn Virginia had a very lucky St Patrick’s Day!

Hockey is huge for the mini-mites at the Ashburn Ice House. Each week about 30 pre-school and kindergarten aged hockey players take to the ice to learn the skills of the game in a way that makes the 6 days in-between seem very long. From the big hockey for little kids drills like, “Tug-of-war”, “Biscuit Burglar”, and “Monster Face-Offs” the Ice House has a reputation of making learning fun for these pint sized players, but no one expected what happened on St. Patrick’s Day.

The Ashburn mini-mites took to the ice at 5pm sharp in full gear on March 17th prepared to run a series of skating and hockey drills with three Washington Capitals players. The tikes learned just days earlier that they would be playing with the pros but they didn’t have any idea which NHLers were planning to show up. After a brief warm-up the announcements were made, “Please Welcome, “Shaone Morrisonn”, Brooks Laich”, and … “Alexander Ovechkin”!!!

The response from the kids ranged from completely stunned, jaw dropping, silence to blood curdling screams. It didn’t take the munchkins long, however, to get over the shock and show the Caps, including “Coach Ovy”, a thing or two about how to play hockey mini-mite style. Soon Laich, Morrisonn, and Ovechkin were racing the kids and each other for brightly colored juggling scarves, jumping over hurdles, and diving under sticks. With Morrisonn manning one bench and Laich the other, the highlight for the tots was a scrimmage game while Ovechkin stayed on the ice, dropping the puck and playing for both teams.
“Getting to have the NHL players come out is just so awesome for the kids.” Ashburn Ice House general manager and mini-mite coach Rob Lorenzen said, “It’s fun for them and fun for us too!” Mini-mite mom Christina Garber said, “It was a real treat to watch our star struck children with such gracious athletes” and her son Ben exclaimed, “I think this is the best thing I have ever done with mini-mites!" The reaction from the players was just as enthusiastic. Ovechkin, who never stopped smiling throughout the event said, “I remember how exciting it was for me to meet pro players when I was little. It made me want to play even more.”

 

Not even old enough attend school yet, some of these kids may not realize until they look back over the pictures a few years from now that this was likely the luckiest St. Patrick’s Day of their lives. As the little kids, and the professional big ones, were leaving the ice Alex Ovechkin pried 4 year-old Max Thiessen’s gloves off his tiny stick and replaced it with his own. Max later reported to his father that “Mr. Ovechkin’s” stick was too big for him and he asked his dad if he could cut it down. When asked to comment Max’s dad said with a chuckle, “I’m just glad he’s too young to use a saw”.

 

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