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Hitting, Shooting and Reading

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
Byfield, MA -- Friday afternoon of development camp week was designated for community appearances by the prospects. Eight of the players attended a program at Newbury Library in Byfield, Massachusetts. The Bruins have been partnered with the library for the past two years working on a summer reading program, "When you read you score." This reading program is also held in conjunction with the Massachusetts Environmental Reading Program.

Click here for a full photo gallery. (Photo: Sheryl Lanzel)
Upon arrival, the team brought in a set of furniture to give to the library. The bookcases, table and chairs were all made out of hockey sticks and had a large reading rug to go along with them. The player assembled the chairs in front of the children and the librarians were thrilled to have this “reading rink” added to their library.

"He is a Bruins fan, he watched right up through the playoffs, until the end." said the mother of 8-year-old Miles from Byfield spoke about how much her son enjoyed the event.

"This was a fabulous event. He is going back right now to thank them all. It was very nice, in a small town like this, it was great. My son was looking forward to this all week. It's also nice because they don't know these players but now they'll remember them."

The program consisted of three different stations, a hockey obstacle course, a reading circle and a planting activity. Zane Gothberg, Matt Bartkowski and Tyler Brenner started off at the "reading rink". Surrounded by children sitting on their new rug and chairs, Gothberg read them a children's book called "Dino-Hockey". The children loved listening to the players and were very attentive throughout the book. When the story was finished, all three players did a round of trivia with the kids, awarding hockey pucks signed by the 2009-2010 Bruins to the child that answered correctly.

"It was definitely a good experience to see how crazy the fans are here in Boston, so it was fun." said Gothberg who seemed to particularly enjoy the event.

At the next station Ryan Donald, Jared Knight and Max Sauve guided the ecstatic children through the obstacle course. They were to jump through hula hoops, shoot a toy puck, climb through a tunnel, toss a ball and ring the gong when they were finished. The kids kept coming back for more and the players were enthusiastic while assisting.

At the last station sat Justin Florek and Ryan Spooner who planted sun flower seeds with the children. This was the station meant to incorporate the Massachusetts Environmental Reading Program. The players switched stations after a certain amount of time and the children wandered from one to the next.

"I think this was an amazing event," said Mary Rose Leary, one of the trustees at the library as she stood alongside awed staff members. "The players were so helpful and supportive and really patient with the kids.

"I think this is a wonderful partnership, it really encourages, especially the boys, to read."

"Watching the players read really does encourage the reading and I love the fact that the Bruins have partnered with us and I hope it continues. The kids had a wonderful time and Blades was the icing on the cake."

Of course Blades, the Bruins mascot,  showed up at the end of the event to take photos with the children and while the loveable bear was meeting and greeting, the players all sat together and signed autographs for the children.

"I think today was absolutely amazing. It helps the library incredibly to have such a special day and I have heard every parent say how much they enjoyed the day and the kids loved every minute of it." said Celeste Bruno, the communications specialist from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners who came to Byfield to greet the players and the children.

"I think the obstacle course was a big hit and the players were really just amazing. They couldn't have been nicer and they made everybody feel welcome and have fun. This was just a great day."

As the children said goodbye to the players and grabbed their goodie bags on the way out, Matt Bartkowski talked about the experience.

"I think the kids enjoyed [the event]," he said. "It was a good turnout and I thought it went well. Some guys might not like doing this but I don't mind it. It's nice; it makes some kids really happy."

--Samantha Curtin
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