As it should be, the kids are the big winners in the Kraft Hockeyville festivities.
Just hours before the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators battle at the Mile One Centre in St. John's, a player from each squad headed out to Conception Bay South to visit two elementary schools. Jets forward Spencer Machacek and Sens center Peter Regin represented their clubs and took turns taking questions from students of both Topsail and St. George's Elementary Schools. They also signed some autographs and took group photos.
"I had a lot of fun interacting with the community," said Machacek, who hails from Lethbridge, Alberta. "I've never been out here. This is a beautiful part of the country. It's amazing. The teachers and the kids are just so excited to have us here. All the energy is a lot of fun. It's a special thing I'm sure for them to have NHL players come in. We were all young like that once. It was a lot of fun."
St. George's Principal Paul Edwards was thankful to both Regin and Machacek, knowing full well the two players created memories for his schoolchildren that will last a lifetime.
"The kids have been excited all week," Edwards said. We're delighted today to have the players with us. The kids are excited and they will be for another few days while Hockeyville is ongoing. There's been quite a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from our school.
Not lost in the shuffle was a visit from NHL alumni Mathieu Schneider and Rob Zamuner to the Janeway Children's Hospital in St. John's. There's little doubt Schneider and Zamuner brightened some kids' days.
"I think it's amazing that they do this," Machacek said of the Kraft Hockeyville experience. "I'm sure every year, it just grows and grows. A lot of people haven't been out here, including myself. To be able to see this part of the country and see the excitement in this town and to give these kids an NHL game, it's pretty special."