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Short Shifts

Coyotes give lucky head rubs to 8-year-old on Hockey Fights Cancer Night

Leighton Accardo also took faceoff, gave pep talk to team before game against Flames

by Cristina Ledra @cledra / NHL.com Staff Writer

Coyotes honor Leighton Accardo

Cancer fighter Leighton Accardo drops puck in Arizona

Eight-year old cancer fighter Leighton Accardo joins the Coyotes and Flames for a ceremonial puck drop in Arizona to honor Hockey Fights Cancer

  • 02:01 •

Leighton Accardo gave a pep talk to the Arizona Coyotes, but surely it was her lucky head rubs that propelled them to a 3-0 win against the Calgary Flames.

The Coyotes gave the 8-year-old All-Star treatment Saturday during Hockey Fights Cancer Night, first signing her to a contract. 

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Welcome to #OurPack, Leighton! pic.twitter.com/e4zcPMOjxp

Accardo, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 malignant germ cell tumors in May has been undergoing treatment at Phoenix Children's Hospital. She is scheduled for further treatment in New York but before that, she had a full day of festivities with the Coyotes.

Video: CGY@ARI: Coyotes welcome Leighton Accardo

She addressed the team before the game where she told them to "work hard and have fun," then told them they could rub her head for good luck. Coyotes forward Derek Stepan, who sports a similar hairdo, let her rub his head, getting a giggle out of her. Stepan went on to score one of Arizona's three goals. 

Accardo took warmups with the team and even got a celly lesson from forward Vinnie Hinostroza. 

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Leighton leads warmies today. 💜#HockeyFightsCancer pic.twitter.com/GflSFcEhtO

When it came time for the ceremonial puck drop, Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson stepped aside to let her take the faceoff against Flames captain Mark Giordano, which she won.

After the game, she was named the first star, went into the locker room to thunderous applause, gave the team the next day off, and earned the ceremonial pelt.  

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Did you really think the game pelt was going to anyone else? 💜 #HockeyFightsCancer pic.twitter.com/OQK0uyD1El

A big part of the whole experience was Accardo's ability to skate. One of the tumors in her abdomen has impacted her left sciatic nerve, so she can't lift her left foot or flex her toes. The Coyotes and Bauer stepped up to get her a pair of skates with alterations so she could get her left foot in with no problems.

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: She captured our hearts and we know she'll capture yours too.Get to know our special friend Leighton Accardo, who hasn't let cancer stop her from lacing up her skates. 💜#HockeyFightsCancer pic.twitter.com/mc5ihtTnwg

The night ended with a round of fist bumps from the boys. 

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: The perfect TEAM win. We love you, #49! 💜 pic.twitter.com/AsLCa1GkTE

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