The Pittsburgh Penguins hosted their fourth annual “Free Game For Kids” Saturday afternoon when the club faced off against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
With help from Dick’s Sporting Goods, who distributed tickets to four of their local stores, the Penguins were able to give away all 18,000 tickets to young people across the Pittsburgh area including to youth hockey teams as well as to their coaches and parents.
Jack Cadwallder, a member on the board of directors for the Mon Valley Thunder youth club, was excited for his players to experience the action of a Pens game.
“It’s wonderful that the Penguins do something like this for all the organizations,” Cadwallder said. “The best part of the day is that there’re some kids that this is their first Penguin’s game. From the Penguins organization to (CEO/President) David Morehouse and on down, if you can do something where I can get to hand a kid his first Penguins ticket, it’s great.”
Wayne Banks, father of Pittsburgh Predators player Michael Banks, was just as thankful.
“It’s great that the Penguins get all these youth teams together and allow them to come for free,” Banks said. “I came here with my son Michael and we’re having a great time.”
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury thought the event was a smart idea on the Penguins’ part.
“It’s pretty cool,” Fleury said. “It’s a great idea and (the kids) seemed to have really enjoyed coming out.”
Some of the other youth clubs in attendance were the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, the Mighty Penguins sled hockey team, the Pittsburgh ICE inner-city program and the Steel City Icebergs special needs club. Each of these groups are members of the Tickers For Kids Foundation.
For Mark Baumgartner and his son Owen, who plays for the Mount Lebanon Hornets, the day was perfect.
“It’s such a great experience,” Baumgartner said. “Great atmosphere, great that the Penguins are so generous to give tickets to us and all these kids, parents and chaperones and coaches. It’s great for the sport and great for the Penguins.”
When asked about his favorite part of the day, Baumgartner’s son, Owen, simply stated, “Just watching the game!”