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NHL puts on great show

As parents and children lined up Thursday to welcome the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues to the Copper Country, chants broke out, mainly from children wearing Red Wings sweaters, of “We’re waiting, we’re waiting, we’re waiting for the Wings.” While at first, the chants seemed innocuous, they were actually a precursor for what would turn into a day of fantastic memories for all those young hockey fans.

While the Red Wings ran late, which makes sense given the team had played a preseason game the night before against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Blues arrived at the “red carpet” first.

This is where the proof that both teams were cognizant of what Thursday meant began. As the Blues departed their team bus, one of the players who emerged was former Michigan Tech Huskies defenseman Mitch Reinke. Also coming off the bus was former Michigan State Spartans forward Mackenzie MacEachern.

When the Red Wings arrived, among their ranks were former Western Michigan defenseman Danny DeKeyser, Spartans forward Taro Hirose, and Northern Michigan Wildcats forwards Dominik Shine and Troy Loggins.

The star of the Red Wings’ arrival was former Michigan Wolverines forward Dylan Larkin, who signed everything he could on one side of the carpet and then walked back and started over on the other side.

We at the Daily Mining Gazette were extremely pleased to see that the Blues called Reinke back up from the American Hockey League’s San Antonio Rampage and brought him with Calumet. The fact that both teams brought so many other skaters who played college hockey throughout the state was a great bonus.

Another great decision was to have children from Calumet Elementary School in the rink for the morning skate. As the players practiced in front of a packed rink, none of them could contain the smiles on their faces.

After the game was over Thursday night, every player who was interviewed talked about how much the experience meant to them, including getting the opportunity to practice in front of some many excited children, who will carry those memories for a lifetime.

From the player arrivals to the morning skate to the game itself, the NHL proved time and time again that they had a goal in mind, make the day special for many young fans who might not otherwise ever get to see professional athletes up close. That goal was reached early, and then again and again from there the rest of the day.

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