On the ice, things have been looking up for the Estevan Bruins lately as they sit 6-4 in their last ten games. Off the ice, they've been helping other people's days look up as well.
The Bruins have completed a tour of schools in Estevan, spending time with students at recess and in gym class, signing autographs and reading to them. According to Bruins director of operations, Danny Ewen, the kids enjoyed the visits almost as much as the Bruins themselves.
"It's a great time for players to meet some of the young fans," Ewen said, "and make some of those great personal connections. It's a neat experience not only for the kids to meet the guys they watch on the ice without their helmets on but for our guys because it brings them back to when they were idolizing their hockey heroes."
The Bruins players played floor hockey and dodge ball, among other things, with groups of kids who were thrilled to meet them in person. For Alameda native and Bruins veteran Jayden Davis, it was a throwback to his own school years.
"The kids loved it and I had a great time too," Davis said. "I loved playing dodgeball and running around at recess, it just reminded me of when I was a kid and having a good time."
Reading time was another highlight for the players, though some of them had to test out some unorthodox reading skills.
"Seeing some of the guys reading upside down like the librarians used to read to them, they found that to be harder," Ewen said. "It's comical for the kids. Our floor hockey game at St. Mary's, the whole school was getting into that with a little "We Will Rock You", it was fun."
"We played some dodgeball at Spruce Ridge and our guys showed no mercy," he added with a chuckle.
The kids at the schools also scored some free tickets out of the visits, and for the Bruins, that means more butts in seats at Affinity Place, and a new generation of young fans on their side.
"As good as a team might play, if you don't have any connection to the community it doesn't really matter," said Ewen. "When we come to the schools, sometimes they recognize the guys and say "Look, there's Mike McChesney, there's Johnny Witzke' but sometimes they don't. Then they come to a game after a school visit and they have a favorite player because they were the ones on the monkey bars with them."
"The kids get to the games and once they're here once, they want to come again," he said.