Dream come true for lo­cal Habs fan

Sherbrooke Record - - FRONT PAGE - By Matthew Mc­cully

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.

COURTESY RON LACROIX

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