Although the Elmira Sugar Kings kept their fans on the edge of their seats during the course of a nail-biter of a game Sunday afternoon, some of the younger fans were itching for the match to end. Not because they were disinterested with the action, but because they knew that when the last buzzer sounded it was time for them to lace up their skates and take to the ice with the team.
Some 60 children flooded the ice, eager to greet the Kings after their overtime win. Although they were still winded from the fast-paced play, the players welcomed their young fans with open arms.
“I think the young people in Woolwich really look up to our guys,” said Coach Geoff Haddaway. “There is really no difference between an Elmira Sugar King and a Kitchener Ranger and a Toronto Maple Leaf in their eyes. When I think back when I was young and watching Junior hockey, those guys were ‘it’ to me. They looked so big and strong and fast and it was right there in front of me.”
In addition to skating with the eager fans, the Kings signed autographs on game programs, hockey jerseys and helmets – staying on the ice until every fan had a chance to interact with them.
“I think the event means a lot to everybody,” said Haddaway. “We get such great support from the people in Elmira and the guys really like being a part of the community.”