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Brown Drops First Puck at TD Garden

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON, MA – Norwood High School senior Matt Brown has become close friends with Boston Bruins players Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Zdeno Chara over the past two years. 

But for Brown, who was paralyzed two years ago playing in a hockey game for Norwood High School, there was no greater moment than dropping the ceremonial first puck at TD Garden before the Bruins contest with the New York Islanders Saturday.

“It’s such a blur just because of all the emotion going through,” Brown said. “Coming back, I told my dad I don’t even remember going out, it happened so fast.

"But just listening to the crowd react like that, like I said before, I didn’t think in a million years I’d have that impact.”

But not even a standing ovation of 17,565 fans could undermine the presence of the Bruins Captain.

“I’ve been around those guys before – but watching them standing there, wearing skates was pretty cool," he said. "I know Zdeno is tall, but he’s so much taller on skates.”

Brown, who is now able to stand in his wheelchair without feeling dizzy and is breathing stronger, received a visit from Bergeron while he recovered at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta in March of 2010.

There, Bergeron brought him a signed jersey with the phrases ‘be patient’ and ‘stay positive,’ and those four words have motivated Brown ever since.

“Those four words have stuck with me every day,” Brown said. “His jersey was above my head when I was at Children’s [Hospital], it was on the plane when I went down to Sheperd’s Center, it was on the plane ride home, and right now it’s above my bed.”

During the puck drop, Brown also debuted his new state-of-the-art wheelchair. Through the funds raised at the Matt Brown Gala hosted by the Boston Bruins Foundation and the TD Garden, Matt recently received his new wheelchair, which helps him stand upright.
Brown met Chara and Islanders captain Mark Streit at center ice for the puck drop, accompanied by his father, Mike, Executive Director of the Bruins Foundation Bob Sweeney and Vice President of Business Development for Journey Forward Dan Cummings.

Matt’s good friend and Army Ranger Lucas Carr was on hand for the ceremony. Carr will push Brown’s wheelchair in this year’s Boston Marathon on April 16. The duo, which will join the Boston Bruins marathon team to raise money for the Boston Bruins Foundation, recently took part in the Hyannis Marathon.

The Army Ranger pushed Brown from beginning to end and crossed the finish line in the time necessary to qualify for the upcoming Boston Marathon.

“Every time I look down at him, he’s the only inspiration I need,” Carr said. “He’s inspiring everything going forward for 26.2 miles.

“[This is] just another step in the direction for his process and healing, and hopefully being able to use his arms and legs and being able to stand up.”

Not only is Brown Carr’s inspiration, but he’s his coach, too.

“It’s tough because Lucas is a guy that will get up and run, but a marathon isn’t a sprint,” Brown said. “So my job is to make sure he’s pacing himself and he’s not pushing too hard.”

Today’s puck drop was exciting for Brown, but the day is going to get even better as the Norwood hockey team plays Barnstable in the first round of the South Division 1 state tournament tonight at 7:30.

“I’ve adapted to a coach's role, so its something I’m excited for,” Brown said. “To se if we can get on a run and go out with a bang. It will [be a nice way to] cap the senior year.”

--- Anthony Gulizia
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