Belfast, Northern Ireland --
Perhaps the nicest story to come out of the Boston Bruins trip to Belfast is the one that ends with a picture of Shawn Thornton
and his mom, Christine, embracing members of the Belfast branch of their family following the B's 5-1 victory over the Belfast Giants Selects on Saturday night as part of the NHL Premier Challenge.
|Thornton & family. |
"Oh I sure did," said Mrs. Thornton when she was asked if she enjoyed watching Shawn play in her native-country.
"Just watching him and having all the family there beside me [was the best part of the trip]."
"It was awesome," said Thornton, succinctly, of the entire experience.
Shawn talked about heading to the outskirts of downtown Belfast and meet his Northern Ireland-based family on their own turf.
"It’s good to get out of the city a bit and see where they live, and a couple of their local pubs and probably the biggest fish and chips I’ve ever seen in my whole life," said Thornton. "It was fun."
Mrs. Thornton hadn't been back to Belfast since she was 5-years old in 1961.
"But they come over quite a bit, so we’re all very close," she said of the family.
"Even though...they do go back and forth [to the Thornton's home in Canada], I hadn’t seen some of them - like the younger ones - since they were born.
"So it was really exciting," she said.
It was exciting for the family in Northern Ireland, as well.
"Shawn, I haven't seen you since you were six," said one of Shawn's cousins, who rubbed his chin, looked at the muscular professional hockey player and added, "you've filled out a bit."
Laughter ensued and characterized the entire stay in Belfast.
"I’ll take [with me] the driving around with my cousin and uncle and asking questions about the city and things that happened in the past and seeing the family members that I haven’t seen in years," said Thornton of his favorite memories. "That’s probably what I’ll take from this the most, even though the city’s great.
"I’m having an awesome time...It’s gone by too quick for me, actually."
But judging by the smile on the face of Christine Thornton after the game on Saturday, nobody had better time than Shawn's mom.
"Thank you to my wonderful son for sending me," said Mrs. Thornton. "And thanks to the Bruins organization for playing here."