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Flames' Raymond, Coyotes' Szwarz visit school

by Corey Masisak

SYLVAN LAKE, Alberta -- Calgary Flames forward Mason Raymond grew up in nearby Cochrane, Alberta, so he knows what it's like to look up to members of the Flames as a kid.

Raymond was on the other end of that relationship Wednesday when he and Arizona Coyotes forward Jordan Szwarz were the guests of honor at Fox Run School. The school, which also welcomed students in the gymnasium from nearby Mother Teresa Catholic, welcomed the two players as part of the lead-up to the Kraft Hockeyville preseason game between Arizona and Calgary at the Sylvan Lake Multiplex.

The players arrived to a crescendo and screams and applause from the kids, which ranged from Grades 3-9 and filled the gymnasium to capacity. Raymond and Szwarz talked to the students about their careers and journey to being a hockey player before selected kids were able to ask them questions.

The questions ranged from how hockey impacts their lives to goals for the season, and included one for the 23-year-old Swzarz about his post-career plans, which he said there is hopefully a long time before he has to figure that out.

After the Q&A session, a representative from Kraft unfurled a large banner to celebrate Sylvan Lake's victory in the contest, and the two players signed it. The banner will hang at Fox Run School to commemorate the visit.

Before they left to prepare for the game, Raymond and Swzarz took part in a floor hockey accuracy contest, firing balls at a net fitted with a shooter tutor. After the two NHL players shot, several kids from both schools had their chance to best the pros.

Raymond and Swzarz, along with Calgary's mascot Harvey the Hound, signed autographs and took photos with students before departing.

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