READING, MA — Children and parents alike surrounded the glass at the Burbank Ice Arena’s rink Saturday afternoon to catch a glimpse of Boston Bruins Assistant Coach Doug Houda and B's alum Tommy Songin, who stopped in for a surprise visit to help coach Reading’s 3 & 4 mites team.
Afterward, Houda said that he had a good time meeting the children and their coaches as he lent a hand in their practice.
"I think this is a great day today, coming out here," said the former NHL defenseman and long-time B's assistant. "It was something different for them -- coming out here to give advice obviously -- and just having fun all the time.
"I really think their coaches did a great job out here today to keep it exciting for the kids and they had a lot of smiles on their faces."
Reading native Bonnie watched her son David, 7, practice from the stands, and was ecstatic herself, but believed her little hockey player was "more excited than he can possibly imagine."
She also said that David's been a fan of the Bruins since he learned how talk, and has wanted to play hockey since the minute she put him in skates.
"He did the 'Learn to Skate' program and then the 'Learn To Play' program and this is his first year in the mites and he loves it," explained Bonnie.
Already showing a pro's flair for understatement, David simply explained the experience as "really, really good."
As for his favorite part of the session, the young skater said it was the post practice race and added that just being able to skate with Houda and Songin was really cool.
Houda, who’s a father of two, said he could relate to how the other fathers felt as they watched their children out on the ice.
"You see today there’s a lot of fathers out there spending some quality time with their kids," he said. "Time goes very quick, so it brings you back to your own children…and how much it means to spend time with your family."
During practice Matt, father of Jack, 8, noticed the kids looking more energetic and happier than usual.
"You can even see the kids right now skating harder," he said. "They’re paying more attention than they normally do."
For his part, Houda was simply glad to be on hand and meet the children and their families.
"It’s about having fun...and being on the ice," said Houda. "The kids had a great time.
"It was a good day today."