Editor's note: This post is Colin's first for The Hockey Life.
Last week, when my one of my favorite hockey teams, the Boston Bruins, and my best NHL buddy, Patrice Bergeron, came to town, I was excited because I’d get to be the Lightning Dream Kid and skate before the Tampa Bay Lightning game.
After getting dressed in my gear and putting on my Tampa Bay Jr. Lightning jersey (I really wanted to wear my Bruins Bergeron jersey, but they wouldn’t let me)., I got to watch the warmups from the Zamboni tunnel. As the players skated around, all I could think about was what I would have to do in just a few minutes.
Before hitting the ice, when I got to skate to the Thunderstruck song, my only thought was “don’t fall.” I concentrated on the music and lights and doing my best.
Once on the ice, I really didn’t hear the crowd and the noise and kind of tuned it out. For my first lap, I was told to skate behind the first net and in front of the second net, but without thinking, I nearly skated behind the second net because that’s what I do in practice.
After my second lap and ending up at center ice with the spotlights on me, it felt amazing. There were so many lights. There were white lights, silver lights and blue lights. It looked really cool when they were shining through my cage. By then, I could hear the crowd. It was cheering so loudly, too, that it was amazing.
I then skated over to the Lightning bench and waited for the players to give me fist bumps as they came on the ice. It was really fun getting fist bumps, but some of the head taps from players surprised me. The ones that surprised me the most were three in a row from Vinny (Lecavalier), then Marty (St. Louis) and then Stammer (Steven Stamkos). It seemed like they patted me on the head like they do their teammates after they score a goal. Really, it didn’t bother me at all
During the national anthem, I got to stand next to any of the starters I wanted. Since Adam Hall, my favorite Lightning player is hurt, I stood next to Nate Thompson, one of my other favorite Lightning players. I didn’t know how to hold my helmet and other gear, so I looked around how to do it. By the time I figured it out, the anthem had started.
During the anthem, I accidentally hit goalie Mathieu Garon’s pads a couple of times with my stick. After the second time, he looked down and gave me a look. After that, I kept better control of my stick. Even though I wanted to laugh a little and say “I’m sorry,” I kept my mouth shut during the national anthem.
Later, after taking off my hockey equipment, I certainly felt like I wanted to pass out. I felt so stressed, because I kept myself together so tightly, and relieved that I had done it without falling, it felt like my vision was blurry for a couple of seconds.
After drinking some Fierce Grape Gatorade, I felt better. I just sat there and let my heart rate settle down. One time I put my hand over my heart and it was like dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit. After a while, I calmed down. After my Dad packed my gear into my hockey bag, we headed upstairs and joined my Mama and friend Sofia to watch the game.
To sum up the night, from skating the laps to getting fist bumps from the players to standing on the blueline with one of my favorite Lightning players to watching the game with my family and friend, it was the most perfect night I could imagine.
I hope I get to do it again someday. If I don't, it's something that I'll remember for the rest of my life.