There are plenty of great coaches throughout Wilmington Youth Hockey. But one of those teams didn’t mind giving up the locker room spotlight to a familiar face on Sunday.
After the Boston Bruins donated their Ristuccia Arena ice time to the local team on Sunday, the players were pleasantly surprised to see Stanley Cup winning coach Claude Julien walk through the door to see them.
Julien spoke to the players about the importance of loving the game that they play. He also took the young skaters on a tour of the Bruins locker room and training area that is normally closed to the public.
“You only know him as you see him during interviews on television, but he was really a nice guy,” said Squirts 1 head coach Mike Fiorenza. “He chatted with the coaches, and it was just like talking to another one of the guys. Except he just happens to be the coach of a Stanley Cup champion.”
According to Fiorenza, the message of Julien’s talk with the players was simple. Winning is great, but having fun on the ice is just as important.
The Squirts coach said Julien’s message is one that he and his fellow coaches stress regularly.
“He talked about playing for fun, and that’s something that realistically we stress with the kids,” said Fiorenza. “It has to be first and foremost that the kids play because they enjoy it. The sport teaches and creates team play, friendships, how to play right and other things that they’ll carry on with them later in life.”
For the young players, the best part of the Bruins locker room tour was seeing the rug that is painted like a hockey rink, allowing for a solid game of knee hockey.
While the players were thrilled with the visit from one of the top members of the Bruins organization, they weren’t the only ones.
“The coaches were pretty geeked up too,” said Fiorenza.