Eight-year-old Hunter Hamilton is looking forward to being a Scotiabank Skater which will enable him to join the Toronto Maple Leafs during the pre-game warm-up before this Thursday's game at the Scotiabank Arena. Hunter is the lucky winner of the Scotiabank Skater contest and will have his family there cheering him on when the Leafs play the Nashville Predators. /DARREN LUM Staff

Contest win to give player rare NHL experience

By Darren Lum

Highland Storm player Hunter Hamilton is excited to see the Toronto Maple Leafs play and share the ice with his hockey hero Mitch Marner thanks to an opportunity offered through the Scotiabank Skaters contest.

Hunter will be skating around the rink during the pre-game warm up for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Nashville Predators game this Thursday at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The prize includes four tickets to the game a Scotiabank hockey jersey the Scotia Hockey Club Merchandise Pack and a personalized digital player card with a photo from the experience.

Hunter 8 has played hockey for five years and is a defenceman with the novice aged Storm.
He loves the game for the friends he’s made and the time he spends with them playing hockey eating hot dogs and having sleepovers.

Hunter calls Marner his favourite player and said “I like his cool moves” which he intends to ask the NHL player about.

Hunter’s mother Cheryl said he has been working on pulling off the lacrosse move Marner has performed which is when you pick up the puck from the ice with the stick and score.

His father Mike who also coaches his son in hockey for the Storm said Hunter told him he was excited to see the team’s starting goalie “Freddy” Anderson and is looking forward to being able to fist-bump all the players on the skate around.

He adds that he’s anticipating the scene of his son on the NHL ice.

“Just being down on ice level and getting to see your kid out there being with the NHL players is pretty cool” he said.

Although the Predators includes Haliburton’s Matt Duchene Mike said Duchene was unable to commit to a meeting due to scheduling constraints.

“You never know he may come over after the anthem” he said.

His hope is the experience will motivate his son to work on his game seeing where hard work can take him.

“I’m honestly hoping when he goes and does it and sees what it is that it connects him more with hockey and makes him want to try harder at being a better hockey player too” he said. “Just like in work something triggers you to be better at your job.”

The parents are taking their entire family including two sisters one older and one younger. The prize pack includes four tickets and so they have bought an extra ticket so all five of them will get to go and see Hunter.

With Duchene’s family and friends expected to attend the game there is likely to be at least 20 people from the Haliburton County area Mike said.

All of this almost didn’t happen according to Cheryl.

“They called me on Friday [Feb. 21] and I hadn’t checked my voicemail and we were on our way to Peterborough for hockey on Sunday. I was listening to my voicemail on the way. ‘Oh my God.’ Nobody could hear what I was hearing and I was like ‘I think it just said you get to go skate with Mitch [Marner].’ The problem was it said in the voicemail ‘we need to hear back from you by the end of today and I sent you an email and haven’t heard back.’ So I went through my junk mail and I didn’t find anything. So and this was on Sunday so I’m like ‘Oh no he’s not going to be [going] because he missed the deadline.’ We creeped [the contact] on Facebook and sent her a message: We’re Hunter Hamilton’s parents and we really don’t want to miss this opportunity.” The contact wrote back and assured them all was good and the opportunity was still available.

Until she got the voicemail Cheryl had forgotten she had entered the contest.

“I often submit entries but you never think you’re going to win anything” she said. “So yeah when [we] got the call it was pretty exciting.”

The Scotiabank Skaters Contest includes the Calgary Flames Edmonton Oilers Montreal Canadiens Toronto Maple Leafs Winnipeg Jets Manitoba Moose London Knights and the Toronto Marlies.

Enter  at www.scotiabankskaters.com. The contest is open to children aged seven to 14. “Winners must be confident in their skating ability in front of large crowds and those selected will be asked to complete an online qualification form” the website says.