When Charlene and Tyler Egglestone learned they would be flown to Calgary to meet Wayne Gretzky and Hayley Wickenheiser, no doubt they were surprised. But the surprises were far from over.
“These kids had so many surprises throughout the day,” said Charlene. “I don’t think they could have taken any more.
“It was beyond any expectations – you didn’t know what to expect, but it exceeded anything you could imagine.”
Tyler, 10, and his mom flew to Calgary on Sunday and had a meet and greet with the Great One over dinner. The next day Tyler took part in a short hockey camp with Gretzky, Wickenheiser and some Team Canada Coaches.
“I asked (Gretzky) what his favourite part of the game was and he said he likes the fast speed,” said Tyler. “I’ll never forget it.”
Tyler was on the ice with the two hockey greats thanks to his mom, who entered the Samsung Hockey Camp for Kids Contest, put on through TSN.
To win, Charlene wrote an essay answering the question: How big a hockey fan is your child? Only 14 young hockey enthusiasts were chosen from throughout Canada.
“He loves hockey, loves playing hockey and I thought I’d try it and see what happens, and they gave us a call and we had exciting news last Thursday,” said Charlene last week. “If you could see his room, you’d understand. He’s one of the biggest Oilers fans I know. He has everything Oilers – everything.”
During a press conference on Sunday, the 14 players were given Samsung jerseys with the names and numbers on the back, which were later signed by Gretzky and Wickenheiser. When returning from a tour of the stadium, all the kids were surprised to see the locker room arranged like the ones they see their heroes prepare in.
“They had all their equipment laid out like a real NHL team and they had all these little gifts for them, like Team Canada stuff and they were amazed,” said Charlene.
If all that was not enough, during a lunch break, the budding hockey stars were paid a visit from a special guest.
“We heard a knock at the door at one of the organizers said, ‘I don’t know kids, should we answer it?’” said Charlene. “So they all yelled, ‘Come in,’ and Jarome Iginla came in!”
When given the chance to chat with the Calgary Flames right-winger, Tyler asked him the same question he asked Gretzky.
“He said, ‘I like that it’s a competition,’ and he likes winning,” said Tyler.
Finally, the trip ended with the players watching the women’s Canadian hockey team practice. And as a last surprise, had their pictures taken with the team.
“Tyler was standing there right by the door and one of the players gave him her stick,” said Charlene. “She went into the locker room and he was like, ‘I don’t know if she just wants me to hold this for her.’”
Not only did he get to keep the stick, Canada’s Gillian Ferrari signed it for him.
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