As a pair of oversized adolescent teen boys proved they belonged on the same road hockey court as NHLers Tyson Barrie and Jordie Benn, it was up to Ryan O’Byrne, the six-year NHL veteran of the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, to stand in net.
Without any pads, O’Byrne may have made a mistake. Luckily, some of the shots hit the post, as well as hitting O’Byrne.
“Ouch. Hey. This is for fun right guys?” O’Byrne yelped.
Looking a lot slimmer after an off-season backpacking trip through Asia, O’Byrne led the NHL Players Association’s donation for its Goals and Dreams Foundation of hockey gear to 25 local youth.
For Shane Coppinger, it was a pleasure to have his children Aiden and Lauren, who he can barely keep off the ice, each receive hockey gear from Barrie, Benn and O’Byrne.
“It’s awesome to have them meeting players from the minor associations who’ve made it, and have them give their time back. It gives [the kids] a chance to see [a pro] attitude,” Coppinger said.
O’Byrne, a St. Michaels University School grad, is headed back to Cornell this year after 12 years playing pro, including the past three years in Europe.
Manulife, RBC, Kirby’s Source for Sports and private donors also raised an additional $13,000 towards KidSport Victoria, which provides grants for youth athletic registration fees.
Over the past five years the combination has given out 125 sets of hockey gear and raised over $183,150 to support youth in sports.
KidSport will fund 1,400 children this year, and in the past has funded 8,714 kids with $1,871,177 donated by the community. That includes 1,092 kids in hockey at a cost of $310,476.