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2014-07-24 at 14:45

NHLers take to the local ice for Easter Seals

By Leith Dunick
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Summer after summer Thunder Bay’s NHL contingent continue to come out to support Easter Seals in the city.

On Wednesday night seven hockey stars made the trek to the Tournament Centre and spent more than an hour on the ice, followed by a 90-minute autograph session that sent most, if not all, home happy.

And it was for a great cause, said Nashville goalie Carter Hutton.

“It’s great to be a part of this, especially all of us Thunder Bay boys homegrown here, for us to be able to come out,” he said.

“It’s always great to be able to come, I guess for us, to be able to raise some money and interact with some kids. I know it means a lot to them and for us.”

Pittsburgh defender Robert Bortuzzo said he always has a blast at the annual event.

“It’s a great cause and that’s probably the biggest reason we’re out here every year,” he said. “And it puts some smiles on kids’ faces, and you know, there are a lot of people who worked hard to raise some money.

“We’re more than happy to do it.”

Wednesday event raised more than $12,000 for the charity.

Erica Valiharju said it’s a great chance to hook up with some of her hometown heroes.

“It’s fun to skate with the NHL stars,” she said, unable to pick out a favourite. “I’ve been doing this for 10 years or so. It helps purchase wheelchairs, walkers and lifts for people, and other kind of equipment.”

Easter Seals spokeswoman Rhonda Harrison said she can’t say enough about the support, and not just the NHLers.

“We had an amazing turnout. We have more than 65 participants out today supporting Easter Seals kids … It’s a great event and we’re very appreciative of the support of the hockey players for coming out and all the participants for supporting Easter Seals.”

Also on hand at the event were brothers Eric, Marc and Jordan Staal as well as Tom and Taylor Pyatt.

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