Collecting it and jetting across centre ice at full speed, Hamhuis fired the puck over to his right-winger, who one-timed it straight back. Hamhuis then unleashed a rocket of a shot, one so hard it knocked the net right off.
“That was definitely not a goal Dan Hamhuis – and I think you broke the net,” laughed Todd, general manager, coach, centre, left wing, right wing, both defenders and goaltender of the opposition.
“Is there no instant replay??” snapped Hamhuis, in jest.
“No Dan, there isn’t, it’s table hockey.”
Hamhuis has what it takes to be one of the best defencemen the NHL has to offer, but when it comes to table hockey, and playing for fun at the 15th annual Sports Celebrities Festival in particular, he’s as lost as a Sedin in a shootout (props to Chris Higgins for that zinger).
Twenty-five Canucks, team coaching staff, alumni and local sports celebrities, including members of the BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps, attended last Tuesday night’s event and as expected, this year’s was the best yet.
The star of the show was Bryan Jorgensen, a Campbell River product who trains four days a week as a multi-sport athlete. Jorgensen was the poster boy for this year’s event and this was the second time he’s represented Special Olympics athletes and told is courageous story; in 2007 he was paired with then Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell, while this year Chris Higgins had the honour of being alongside Jorgensen.
“The Canucks have been a part of this for a while and I’m very grateful they make such a big night of it,” said Higgins, whose sister Jeanne is a Special Olympics athlete in New York.
“It’s personal for me, but I think it hits close to home for a lot of players. This is an event they love showing up to and being a part of and there’s a lot of smiles around tonight.”
Following dinner, dessert and the comedy stylings of Brent Butt, Higgins introduced Jorgensen and as he predicted, the youngster brought down the house.
Jorgensen became involved in Special Olympics when he was 15 when his family moved from Port Alice to Campbell River. He would attend his brother’s hockey games and loved every minute of cheering him on, but never thought he could play sports as well.
Then he gave floor hockey a try and it changed his life.
“My first night at floor hockey in Campbell River showed me that I could do just as much as anyone else out there,” said Jorgensen. “I came home from my first practice and told my parents ‘I didn’t know there were other people out there just like me.’ It was so amazing for me. I am part of a group, part of a team!”
Jorgensen then tackled basketball, five-pin bowling, soccer and swimming, the latter earning him a spot at the 2010 National Games in London, Ontario, where he represented BC winning two silver and two bronze medals.
The sights are now set on the 2017 Provincial Summer Games where Jorgensen hopes to qualify in swimming. Competitions and medals aside, Jorgensen credits sports in general with helping him become a better person.
“Being able to do sports has given me so many rewards. I have been able to develop better communication skills, confidence, and most of all the love of sports and healthy living.”
Special thanks to everyone who supported the Sports Celebrities Festival – happiness like Jorgensen’s isn’t possible without you.