|Niklas Kronwall reacts to being stopped on a shoot-out attempt by St. Robert Bellarmine principal Nancy Kuszczak. (Photo by Bill Roose/Detroit Red Wings) |
– It’s been awhile since Niklas Kronwall
was summoned to the principal’s office as a young boy back home in Stockholm, Sweden.
But the Red Wings’ defenseman came close Friday afternoon as a special guest at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic School
Representing the students, Kronwall was the final shooter in an impromptu street hockey shoot-out against the teachers in the school gymnasium. With the teachers clinging to a 1-0 lead, Kronwall was faced with the dubious task off scoring on Nancy Kuszczak – the school’s principal for the last 14 years.
“I told him if he had scored on me he would have had to come to the principal’s office,” Kuszczak said, laughing.
Most students usually try to avoid demerits, going to summer school and making frequent visits to the principal’s office. Luckily for Kronwall he managed to prevent the latter when his shoot-out attempt pinged off the right goal post preserving the teachers’ victory over their pupils.
While Kronwall was an obvious ringer for the students, it seemed the teachers’ goalie had some competitive skills, herself.
“I was raised in a hockey family and I’ve been the goalie on more than one occasion for my brothers,” Kuszczak said. “But with the kids shooting against me, they got a chance to take me out, and I over-powered them.”SEE PHOTOS: Red Wings School Assembly
Kronwall was at the small Catholic grade school as part of the Red Wings’ School Assembly Program, which is sponsored by the Detroit Red Wings Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
. The program, which started last year, is intended to introduce young school-aged children to hockey and encourage them to lead active and healthy lives through daily exercise and good eating habits.
Friday’s visit to western Wayne County was already the program’s 65th school stop. The Wings’ program scheduled to visit 100 elementary schools in metro Detroit this season.
The students, who filled one half of the gym with a sea of red, asked Kronwall several great questions. They wanted to know if his teammates were like family and what his favorite school subject when he was their age, and whether or not his brother, Staffan, still played in the NHL. For the record, his favorite class was math.
“Just seeing all of the Red Wings T-shirts and jerseys is great, but at the same time I hope that they learned something today about dedication and education and exercising, and eating the right types of food,” Kronwall said. “It’s a thrill for me to come here and see the kids and all of their energy, and to see all of the Red Wings logos. The kids are exciting and it’s great.”
Of course, the day wouldn't be complete without the Red Wings leaving some special items behind for the school, including two complete sets of floor hockey equipment, as well as Red Wings-themed school folders for each student, and BCBS magnets that list five fun after-school activities.
“It was just amazing. The Red Wings were fabulous throughout our whole journey with them,” Kuszczak said. “It was exciting and our kids sold tickets so we could get a player here, and they were able to see that when you work hard you get a reward.”Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill