|Click here for a full photo gallery from Peabody. (photo: Howie Hecht) |
A squad of eight aspiring NHL stars took time out of their development camp schedule to spend time with the elderly patients currently residing in Pilgrim and their arrival was much anticipated, as 40 excited fans greeted the B’s when they walked into the recreation room on the nursing home. The prospects were greeted with eager cheers and autograph seekers who were happy to see some of the future Bruins.
“Stuff like this is fun,” said forward Tyler Randell
. “I used to do things like this with [my junior team the] Kitchener Rangers all the time.
"It’s good to get away from the ice and give back.”
One of the highlights of the day was meeting 52-year-old Billy Lake, a lifelong Bruins fan and Lowell, Massachusetts native.
Growing up, Lakes family didn’t want him to play hockey, so he learned to skate on figure skates.
“My parents thought it was too dangerous [to play hockey], so they wanted me to figure skate instead,” Lake said.
“I used to take the white figure skates and spray paint them black. That way no one would make fun of me.”
Now unable to play the game he loves, Lake was ecstatic to see the Bruins prospects and get a chance to meet them
“This is just so great that they’re coming,” he said. “It’s so nice for them to come out, it really means so much to have them do this for us.”
“I can't wait to meet them.”
When the players first arrived, they walked around and introduced themselves to each patient before the activities began. When everyone had been introduced, spirited games of Wii bowling quickly broke out, pitting some of the young athletes against the patients as young as 84 years old. The future Black and Gold may want to stick to the ice though, as they were no match for the seasoned veterans of Pilgrim.
While bowling was too exciting for some, other prospects took place in a bingo game that awarded the winners autographed pictures of current Bruins Marc Savard
, Tuukka Rask
and Andrew Ference
. Goaltending prospect Adam Courchaine
took the reigns as the bingo caller, bringing a bright smile and upbeat personality to the game.
Finally, the most athletic of the residents of Pilgrim challenged the hockey players to games of air hockey and basketball. Ben Sexton
was the standout air hockey player, despite losses to an energized Ellen Manning, 74 years of age. Basketball with Mark Cantin and Craig Cunningham
brought smiles to the faces of Lake and 66-year-old John Mackey.
To wrap up a great day, the prospects signed autographs for all of the residents and staff at Pilgrim and were treated to fruit and cake before they departed. However, their visit certainly left the patients with fond memories.
When the autographs were finally handed out, Manning got a little emotional.
“I’ve been a Bruins fan my whole life,” she said, clutching a notebook full of autographs. “To see these young men here means a lot to me. It’s great.”
It was a fun day for all and resident administrator Julie Mearn said the residents will surely cherish the memories and talk about it for a long time.
“They’ll be talking about this all night,” she said.
“They probably won't sleep tonight.”Pilgrim is a not-for-profit, consumer-centered organization committed to fulfilling the health and residential needs of their community.--Brian Smith