KIRKWOOD, Mo. - A group of Little Blues were surprised Wednesday when a big Blue joined them for practice at Kirkwood Ice Rink.
Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk surprised the group of 60 youth hockey players (ages 5 to 8) by leading some drills and sharing his knowledge of the game. He mixed in some autographs and a few selfies too, giving the kids a night they’ll never forget.
“I remember when I was a little kid, hockey could get a little frustrating,” Shattenkirk said. “You fall a lot, you get some bumps and bruises. I told (the kids) I still fall to this day on the ice when I’m by myself. But basically, I think you really just have to enjoy it and not get too frustrated by it.”
The St. Louis Blues launched the Little Blues program earlier this summer. More than 230 children registered for the learn to play program, which cost $100 and included four introductory practice sessions. Participating rinks include Kirkwood, East Alton, All-American Ice Rink in South County and the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
Kids who registered for the program also received an equipment kit from Total Hockey and CCM that included a Little Blues jersey, skates, pads, a helmet and a hockey stick. But getting a visit from a Blues All-Star? Well, that was just an added bonus.
“It’s neat to see something they enjoy so much come true. That doesn’t always happen, so when it does, it’s really special,” said Sarah Lough, who has two sons participating in the Little Blues program. “It seemed like they had a brother out there tonight, not some big time hockey player. You see that joy and it’s really great. Total Hockey has been fantastic, CCM has great products and the Blues have just been so nice with everything.
“My kids are having a wonderful time.”
“People take a lot of pride in being in the hockey community,” Shattenkirk added. “St. Louis, the Blues, Total Hockey and CCM… to be able to put this together for young kids, it’s important and it’s the best way to grow the game.”
“That’s what we’re trying to do.”