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Matt Irwin of Predators helps replace stolen hockey gear

Defenseman arranges for 11-year-old in his hometown to receive new equipment @NHLdotcom

NASHVILLE -- Defensemen have to stick together. Matt Irwin knows that.

That's why the Nashville Predators defenseman had to pick up an assist when he heard the story of Lincoln Shemilt.

Lincoln is an 11-year-old student at Spencer Middle School in Victoria, British Columbia, Irwin's hometown, who recently had all of his hockey gear stolen from his storage locker.

Irwin heard about a message on Facebook from Lincoln's dad and was able to get him all new gear.

Irwin said Brandon Walker, the Predators' director of hockey operations, saw the Facebook message and asked if he knew Lincoln, since they were from the same town. Irwin didn't know him, but he wanted to help out.

"I reached out to a couple contacts at CCM and they were awesome," Irwin said Saturday at Bridgestone Arena after an optional skate ahead of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports). The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 3-2.

"I wanted to be able to help out, and get this guy back on the ice."

Lincoln's mom, Melissa, said they were overwhelmed by Irwin's gesture.

"Lincoln eats, lives and breathes hockey," Melissa Shemlit told "So to have Matt Irwin, a defenseman, the same as Lincoln, helping him out to get back in to the game ... It's such an amazing act of kindness from an NHL player."

Irwin, who hopes to meet Lincoln during the offseason, said getting the gear is more than just about playing hockey.

"Just to be with his buddies," Irwin said. "You don't want to miss those opportunities."

Lincoln is paying Irwin's kind gesture forward. According to Melissa, Lincoln cut off 12 inches of his hair to help raise money for a cancer charity.

"(Lincoln) is a kind-hearted and compassionate young man, so to have Matt Irwin offer to help him when such an unfortunate situation arose ... Kindness goes around full circle," Melissa Shemlit said.

As for the new gear?

"Lincoln is over the moon," she said.

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