Cambridge, MA - The skaters participating in the Neely SK8 Challenge at Simoni Skating Arena in Cambridge, Massachusetts were in for a treat on Feb 28.
Not only did they face a day of great hockey with the USA-Canada gold medal match-up, but they also got to see Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick in person on the ice.
Hunwick missed some early action of the gold medal game to stop by Simoni Skating Arena, where Neely SK8 Challenge participants of all ages took to the ice to help raise funds for children battling cancer and their families.
Some were dressed in full hockey pads and helmets, eager to ask questions and learn a few tips from the blueliner.
“Some of the stuff they ask is just skating techniques,” Hunwick said. “I was teaching some backwards skating, which I do every day.
“It’s fun to interact with the kids.”
Hunwick even took a few pointers of his own from a three-year-old skater who was cruising around the ice for the cause.
“He’s the best skater out here, I think,” he said with a laugh. “He might be better than me.”
All skating lessons aside, Hunwick enjoyed participating in the Challenge partly for reasons that stem from when he was a young hockey player himself.
“The biggest thing is just remembering how you felt when you were a little kid,” Hunwick said. “Because, you know, to the kids it’s a big deal.”
“They enjoy being around other pro athletes and just being able to tell their friends that they skated with someone from the Bruins.”
The grinning B’s admirers had the chance to chat with Hunwick and get their pucks and Neely SK8 t-shirts autographed by the D-man.
The experience reminded Hunwick of a similar one he had as a young fan.
“I remember when I went to a hockey school when I was younger and it was a big deal when there was a couple of the Detroit Red Wings that came out and skated for a day,” said the Michigan native.
“Those are the things you always remember, as you grow up,” he added.
“It’s always fun to have the chance to be a part of something like that.”
With the first period of the gold medal game waning down, the United States and Canada were raising the hockey bar in the fight for gold.
At Simoni Skating Arena, Hunwick and Challenge skaters were finding gold of other sorts – raising funds in the fight against cancer.