Amateur Mount Pleasant hockey players shooting to improve their hockey skills recently scored a visit with Gordie Howe.
The former Detroit Red Wings player, also known as Mr. Hockey, made a visit to the Isabella County Events Arena Saturday morning to visit participants in hockey boot camp, sponsored by the Amateur Hockey Association of Mount Pleasant.
AHAMP ace coordinator Brian Knopp said he decided to bring Howe to hockey camp to fit in with the family theme.
“We believe that hockey is a family orientated sport,” he said.
Knopp said all 75 hockey camp participants and their families were invited for Howe’s visit on the last day of camp, keeping the event somewhat exclusive.
Local sponsors Jay Trucks and Associates, P.C. General Agency Company and Robert F. Murray and Co. P.C. covered the cost of Howe’s visit.
Hockey boot camp participant Corey Robison, 15, was thrilled at the opportunity to meet Howe.
“I think it’s really cool,” Robison said. “We’re not really like anywhere big, he just came here because of our camp.”
Len Klakulak, president of AHAMP said Howe’s visit was entirely a stroke of luck. The current CMU club hockey coach works with the Isabella County Events Arena, and used to skate with Howe’s grandson. He set the visit up.
“I know all week (the participants) were very excited that he was coming,” Knopp said. “It kind of just made a very fun week even funner to have one of the biggest names in Detroit hockey here at our camp.”
AHAMP’s hockey boot camp runs once every summer, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for five days. The current cost of $199 was raised from last years cost of $150 to more adequately cover the costs of running the camp.
The camp is open to area residents under the age of 18, and is intended to work as a preseason, getting participants in shape for the upcoming season.
Knopp said the success of Howe’s visit to the 2010 hockey boot camp has prompted AHAMP to look into recruiting other big names in hockey for next years boot camp.
Howe enjoyed his visit to Mount Pleasant as much as AHAMP enjoyed bringing him to boot camp.
“He was more interested when we brought him into the room first in going over to the window and watching the kids on the ice,” Klakulak said.
“Every time I’m around hockey I’m happy,” Howe said. “The people here are always very nice.”