When Golden Knights senior director of youth hockey Matt Flynn hosts a street hockey clinic for children in the Las Vegas Valley, the kids in attendance smile ear-to-ear throughout the session as many of them try playing hockey for the very first time.
Tuesday afternoon at the Walnut Recreation Center, the excitement beaming from scores of local children was at a heightened level as Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland joined Flynn and his staff for their street hockey clinic.
Seeing local children playing hockey and getting excited about the sport brought Engelland back to his days spent at the rink as a child falling in love with the game that he now plays at the highest level.
"Growing up, you've got to have fun," Engelland said. "You're still a kid, you've got to enjoy it."
Engelland, Flynn and Golden Knights staff put children through different drills focused on teaching the basics of passing, stick handling and shooting. The children didn't hesitate to get Engelland involved at the clinic as each young player wanted to pass the ball with the Golden Knights defenseman.
After a group photo at the clinic's conclusion, Engelland signed as many sticks as he could for the kids. Each child was given a hockey stick and a ball to take home to practice the sport that's taken Las Vegas by storm.
"Just seeing the kids right now playing, screaming and laughing and stuff like that, that's what it's all about," Engelland said.
More street hockey clinics are being held at community and recreation centers around the city for kids enrolled in summer camps at the centers.