It’s a fair bet that this kid will be hooked on hockey for life.
Seven-year-old Skyler Duncan was entered in a prize draw for the Chevrolet Safe & Fun program in March… and he was one of 105 lucky young players who got to be on the ice with Bobby Orr and Cassie Campbell-Pascall on June 15.
Duncan said the prize package arrived in the mail, inviting him to come to the Richmond Oval for the special event.
“It said the people that are going to be there are Bobby Orr and Cassie Campbell,” said Duncan. “My dad told me who Bobby Orr was — and I’ve seen him on TV in the Hockey Classics.
“And Cassie Campbell was in the Olympics.”
For the uninitiated, Orr is one of the greatest names in hockey. He played for 10 seasons with the Boston Bruins, from 1966 to 1976, introducing the hockey world to the term “offensive defenseman.”
Orr’s name is on the Stanley Cup twice and multiple times on the Norris, Art Ross, Conn Smythe and Hart trophies.
Campbell-Pascall is now a hockey commentator for Hockey Night in Canada and TSN. She captained Canada’s national women’s team from 2001 to 2006, leading her squad to two Olympic gold medals. While on the national team, she won 17 gold and 4 silver medals in various championships from 1994 to 2006.
Duncan’s Saturday was going to start early and be busy, so his parents booked the Friday night at the Westin Wall Centre, which was a few minutes from the Oval. Other contest winners were also staying there, including a family from Newfoundland and another from Calgary.
Coming from small-town Hope, Duncan enjoyed the elevators at the hotel — but the lift at the Oval was even more amazing.
“The dressing rooms were on the lower floor but the ice was one floor up,” explained Duncan, “and the elevator had ice on the floor, so you could keep you skates on and not wreck the floor.”
There were six girls in Duncan’s 35-player group (named the Volts) which was sometimes split into three different sections of ice, with rubber chickens forming the dividing lines.
“The whole thing was based on respect and responsibility,” said Duncan’s dad, Kevin.
“They had Cassie and Bobby coaching, as well as six other volunteer coaches. They had skill development , mixed in with a lot of fun.
“At one point, the kids had to pick up a rubber chicken at centre ice and skate in and try to score on Bobby Orr. Bobby did pretty well in net.”
During the day, Duncan got three one-hour practices on the ice, as well as a classroom session, lunch with the celebrities and an autograph session.
“We got Bobby to sign a miniature Boston Bruins stick that we brought along and we had Cassie sign a 2010 Olympic flag. Skyler also got a jersey and they signed that and gave him personalized hockey cards.”
“And we had a ceremony at the end and we got a gift bag and a book about a polar bear named Puckster, who played hockey,” added Duncan.
Duncan, who likes to play forward, is entering his fourth year with Hope Minor Hockey and will be starting Hockey 4 in September.
To learn more about minor hockey in Hope, see the association’s website at HopeMinorHockey.com. A new 12-member board of directors was elected on May 1 and the site includes email links to the executive.