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Short Shifts

Harvey the Hound surprises No. 1 fan: Rittich's younger brother

Flames goalie arranged meeting between mascot, 23-year-old autistic sibling

by Pat Pickens @Pat_Pickens / Staff Writer

David Rittich brought his brother to tears of joy and introduced Harvey the Hound to his No. 1 fan all in one sweet gesture.

The Calgary Flames goalie arranged a surprise meeting between the Flames mascot and his younger brother Tomas, who was so surprised he ended up lifting Harvey up off the ground.

Tweet from @NHLFlames: Tomas Rittich, who has autism, met one of his heroes this week ������

"He pretty much loves [Harvey]," David told the Flames website. "I wanted to give him a moment he'll remember, so we planned a surprise for him."

Tomas, 23, has autism and was visiting David, along with his mom and dad, from their home in Jihlava, Czech Republic. Tomas looks for Harvey every time the Rittiches watch David and the Flames on television, so it was only natural that David would help set up the meeting.

Tomas saw Harvey and ran to him while squealing with delight. He gave Harvey a big hug, before running back to David for a hug, then back to Harvey for a hand shake and one more bear hug.  

"I knew he'd be happy, but I didn't know how he'd react," David said. "He was in tears; I was close."

The encounter was special for David and especially for Tomas, who the Flames goalie called his inspiration.

"The way he fights … I'm very proud," David said. "Someone I look up to more than anyone else in my life."

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