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Belleville alumni happy to be back in town

Saturday, 09.14.2013 / 4:01 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / Kraft Hockeyville 2013 blog

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Kraft Hockeyville 2013 blog
Belleville alumni happy to be back in town

BELLEVILLE, Ontario – When the Winnipeg Jets and Washington Capitals were announced as the teams that would compete in the 2013 Kraft Hockeyville game at Yardmen Arena, a few players were overjoyed.

Eric Tangradi and the Jets arrived in town Friday night, and the 24-year-old forward quickly met up for dinner with Rob and Ilene Cook, his billets during his time with the Belleville Bulls from 2006-09. The memories immediately began to flow back.

"When I left last year, I kind of left with a tear in my eye thinking I would never see it again, maybe just to watch," Tangradi said Saturday morning after the Jets made final preparations for their game against the Capitals (7 p.m. ET, CBC, NHL Network-U.S.). "When this game came up on the schedule, I was definitely very excited and just hoping to be in the lineup. Now that I am, I'm looking forward to tonight. I think it'll be a really special night."

Tangradi isn't the only Jets player in the lineup Saturday who has played in this rink before. Right wing Austen Brassard has been here more recently, having spent the past three-and-a-half seasons with the Bulls. Winnipeg's fifth-round pick (No. 149) is hoping to put forth a solid performance in front of a lot of familiar faces.

"When I heard the news I was going to be playing here, I was pretty excited," Brassard said. "I look forward to tonight and I'm just going to work hard and do the little things right and hopefully it goes well."

Washington goaltender Philipp Grubauer also has special memories of Belleville. The 21-year-old spent a season and a half with the Bulls (2009-10) and played behind Tangradi, as well as Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.

"I learned a lot from that," Grubauer said. "Going into my second year, I played a lot. Lots of experience for me and lots of memories I look back to.

"To have the opportunity to play here, it's awesome. I'm one lucky man to be here. It's awesome, the one-and-a-half years I played here, and I'm happy to be back and see everybody. In the summer, I saw the schedule and saw that Washington was playing in Belleville and I was like, 'Oh man. I got to play there.' Today, I'm here."


Quote of the Day

I first met him when I was 19 years old and he coached me for 13 consecutive years. I don't know how many athletes who have had that pleasure. Al Arbour was a man that left us not only feeling like champions, but left us with a lot of great memories that we can carry on through life.

— Islanders Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin on former coach Al Arbour, who passed away Friday at the age of 82