Maverick hockey stars spend day in the park with kids at Dundee rink


By Jason Glenn

To six-year-old Cade Hopkins, Tom Cruise can’t hold a candle to UNO hockey player Dan Knapp.Cade was one of around thirty kids who showed up at the Dundee Skating Rink Sunday afternoon to get some ice time and advice from their hometown hockey heroes.

“They’re bigger than any Hollywood star could be to him. He lives and breathes and eats and sleeps UNO Maverick hockey,” said Jyl Hopkins, who brought her son from Millard to skate with the Maverick stars.

Hopkins said Cade had just learned to skate within the last two months and the first thing he needed help with was knowing what kind of stick he should get.

“[Knapp] talked to him and we were trying to figure out if he needed a left or a right-handed stick just by the way he was holding it,” she said.

When asked what he liked the most about the day, though, Cade proved himself a dyed-in-the-wool Mav fan.

“Watching them make the goals,” he said.

For Knapp, the free event sponsored by the Dundee Merchants Association provided an opportunity to pass on a little of what he received as a youngster.

“Where I grew up some of the big-time hockey players came and skated and it really meant a lot to be able to talk to them and associate with them,” said Knapp. “It’s good for everybody.”

Chris Hysack and Phillip Lemen, both 9, are teammates on a Junior Maverick team at Tranquility Iceplex and agreed that, for the most part, skating with the big guys was definitely a lot of fun.

“Except when they pulled my shirt over my head,” said Hysack after a playful lesson from UNO forward Brandon Scero on the finer points of confrontation strategy.

Ultimately, the sun-drenched day with temperatures climbing into the 40s offered a perfect backdrop for some budding icers to build lifelong memories.

And for some more experienced ones to take a glance back.

“Especially when I was going out with my parents to skate on the lake, it definitely does bring memories back,” said forward Tomas Klempa. “It’s fun to skate with little kids. I really enjoyed it.


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