A Yellowknife youth scored big time while attending his first NHL game in Edmonton last month.
Zachary Kotokak, 8, drove to the city with his mother, Aurora Kotokak, and his siblings Tristan, Tommie and Peyton and they decided to go to a hockey game: the Edmonton Oilers versus the Ottawa Senators at Rogers Place.
But not only did they get to watch an exciting game – Zachary got to bring home one of the most important parts of the game — an official puck.
It was a resounding “Yes!” from Zachary when asked if he was happy to get the puck as a game souvenir, something he was happy to tell his teacher and classmates about.
It was an evening filled with a little luck and nice surprises for the family, Aurora said.
“It was my son Tristan’s favorite team — the Ottawa Senators — and we got in Row 2, right beside the penalty box for the Edmonton Oilers,” she said of how the evening first started out. “And Zachary was sitting right beside the penalty box and he made it on the (overhead) TV when Connor McDavid went in the penalty box.”
Prior to the game, Aurora said she made a sign which read, ‘I travelled from Yellowknife, NWT. This is my first NHL game’ which they held up during the game.
“They (announcers) saw the sign and mentioned that we travelled from Yellowknife to see Connor McDavid up close. That was pretty cool,” she added.
Scoring a keepsake
A bit more excitement happened during the course of the game, as well.
“And near the third period, a puck went into the penalty box and one of the workers gave the puck to my son Zachary and he was really excited about that,” Aurora said.
“At the end of the game, one of the workers in the arena told us a cool fact about the puck in how it has little dots (sensors) and they show them where the puck lands in the arena. He was really excited about that and how they were able to tell where the puck landed,” she said.
And to end off the game for the thirsty crew, one more treat was pending, Aurora said.
“All the kids had fun, and at the end of the game, they had leftover BioSteel (a sports drink) for the NHL players, so my son Zachary knocked on the penalty box and asked if he could have one, and the same guy that gave him the puck gave him BioSteel and he was really happy for that.”
“And my son Tristan who is the Ottawa fan, he knocked on the glass as well and asked for one, and they gave him one too.”
“For me to drive by myself and I brought four of my five children. It was a really neat experience to share that with my kids,” she said.
Aurora said while they will have lasting memories of the game, the overall experience also had a deeper significance for her.
Her father, Tom Williams, who recently passed away, was a big hockey fan and played the position of goalie, as does her son Zachary, so being at the game was a reminder of him.
“My dad was really proud of the kids,” she said. “He would watch their games and tournaments and practices and cheer them on. And I know this year, he is looking down on them and just really proud of how they are doing in hockey because all my kids play hockey except for my baby.
“All in all, they had a really awesome time.”