Dream come true for local Habs fan
Twelve-year-old (as of yesterday) Ethan Lacroix from the Shefford area had quite the birthday celebration this year.
On Tuesday, he had the opportunity to take the ice at the Bell Centre as a flag bearer for the Montreal Canadiens at their home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“He’s been a Canadiens fan pretty much since the day he could walk and put on skates,” said his father Ron Lacroix.
Lacroix first signed Ethan up as a Montreal Canadiens fan club member when he was six years old. The membership comes with perks, including autographed posters and regular updates about the team.
According to Lacroix, fan club members are also eligible to enter contests to
win unique opportunities like riding the Zamboni at a game or in this particular case, to be a flag bearer for the Habs. The club is for kids 12 and under. In his last year of eligibility, just days before his 12th birthday, Ethan got to live out a lifelong dream of hitting the ice at the Bell Centre alongside his favourite team.
“I was really impressed,” Lacroix said, about the treatment his son received. The prize included four tickets to the game, a meal, and an unforgettable night on the ice with the NHL.
Ethan was one of two flag bearers; the other, a 12-year-old also named Ethan, had made the trip from Niagara Falls to share the honour.
“We got there at 4 p.m.” Lacroix said, at which point they were given a behindthe-scenes tour and some trivia about the famous arena.
“There’s about $100,000 worth of technology in each net,” Lacroix said he learned.
“The two kids got their own dressing room,” Lacroix added. While the arena was still empty, the two Ethans were given their assignments and did a few dry runs on the ice while the arena was still empty.
Since they caught on so fast, Lacroix said the two fans were allowed to stay on the ice between 5 and 5:45 p.m. before the game.
“They had the Bell Centre ice to themselves,” Lacroix said. “The organizers threw some pucks out and said have your way.”
Each flag bearer was given full Canadiens gear which was theirs to keep after the game.
“Ethan played it cool,” Lacroix said, when he first learned he had won the chance to carry the flag for his favourite team.
Game day was a different story, Lacroix said. “Right before it was time to go on, he was very, very nervous,” he explained, and understandably so, considering 22,000 people would be watching.
While the players usually keep to themselves before a game to stay focused, Lacroix said Ethan managed to get a fist bump from Habs team captain Max Pacioretty, a big highlight of the night.
All went according to plan when Ethan’s big moment came. He and Niagara falls Ethan, both in full Habs gear, did a half lap around the Bell Centre ice to thousands of cheering fans, and then held their Canadien flags at either side of the door as the players came onto the ice.
“It was a dream come true,” Lacroix said, the icing on the cake being that it all happened right around Ethan’s birthday.
“We’re a hockey family,” Lacroix said, explaining that he was a coach for the Waterloo Maroons, the same team Ethan played for.
Before all the action began, the Maroons officially made their debut at the Bell Centre. Ethan grabbed a selfie in his team jersey at centre ice.
Most readers know how the story ends. The Habs lost the home opener. But according to young Ethan Lacroix, the night was still a big win.