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Short Shifts

Dreams come true at All-Star Weekend

Make-A-Wish kids meet Wayne Gretzky, Justin Bieber, P.K. Subban

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Make-A-Wish surprise at All-Star

Dreams come true for Make-A-Wish kids at All-Star

Make-A-Wish kids Tori and Colton join All-Star Weekend to meet some of their biggest idols and celebrities, from P.K. Subban to Justin Bieber

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LOS ANGELES -- Tori Dimytruk didn't think anything could top getting a hug from Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban on Saturday.

Then, just when it appeared the 15-year-old's Make-A-Wish America locker room visit at the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend was over, she was led through another door along with 14-year-old Colton Stothers, who was there through The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada.

Waiting on the other side was pop star Justin Bieber, who was fresh off the ice after playing in the 2017 NHL All-Star Celebrity Shootout. Wayne Gretzky, who coached the winning team, also was in the room with Teemu Selanne and several other hockey legends and celebrities.

"My first wish when I was asked what I wanted to do in March, it was to meet Justin Bieber," Dimytruk said. "Unfortunately [with] the timing and stuff it wouldn't have worked out, so I chose this. So the fact that I met Justin Bieber while here was like double whammy wish come true."

Video: Celebrity Game: Bieber gets stoned on penalty shot

Dimytruk, a Whitby, Ontario native who was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and has been cancer-free for the past year, was also pretty excited about meeting Gretzky, the NHL's all-time leading scorer.

"Obviously, he's beyond my time, but I told him I was a really big fan of him too," she said. "If I got asked who I think is the best hockey player, I would say Wayne Gretzky. I think he's still the best, so it was an honor to meet him as well."

Stothers, a Toronto native who has primary ciliary dyskinesia, a chronic respiratory disorder, was more excited about meeting Gretzky and Selanne.

"I've never met them, so it was awesome," he said.

Stothers brought a photo of his Bantam AA team, the Toronto Royals, and had all of the NHL all-stars sign it. He plans to get copies made of the photo that he'll give to his teammates. He expects they will think he was "lucky and [are] probably going to be mad they weren't there."

Stothers said it was a complete surprise he got to visit with the players in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference locker rooms before the 2017 Coors Light NHL All-Star Skills Competition. Stothers had been told not to be shy before he entered the Eastern Conference room, but his father, Rick, said that was not something to worry about.

"He's happy to go up and talk to people," Rick Stothers said. "He was so excited to come."

Colton Stothers met Toronto Maple Leafs rookie center Auston Matthews at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto when he was there for treatment a week and a half ago. So when Matthews saw Stothers in the locker room, he said, "Hey Colton."

Dimytruk was more star struck when she saw Matthews and had trouble speaking when she approached him to ask for his autograph.

"I didn't really know what to say because I was in shock," she said. "He was the first person I had met, so I didn't really know what to say. But he is incredible."

Dimytruk and Stothers were both excited to meet Subban, who posed for photos with each and gave Dimytruk a big hug. Although the Tampa Bay Lightning are Dimytruk's favorite team, Subban is one of her favorite players because, like him, she plays defense for her midget team, the Whitby Wolves.

"It was like a dream coming true for me because I'm such a big fan of him as well," she said. "So that was pretty cool."

Subban was thrilled to find out that Stothers goes to Runnymede Collegiate Institute in Toronto, the same high school Subban attended, and that they each celebrate their birthday on May 13. Subban then ran into the back dressing room to grab his own smartphone so he could get his own pictures with Stothers and Dimytruk.

"That was awesome and I think he's going to post it [on his Instagram account], which will be even better," Stothers said.

Stothers and Dimytruk walked away with big smiles and memories that will long outlast the difficulties they've experienced with their health.

"I was sick with cancer, so it's like it's putting it in the past for me," Dimytruk said. "So, as much as it's a wish, it's also like a something to move on from it and just to forget about it and to hold this memory. More than being sick, this is a memory I would like to keep."

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