Nashville Predators surprise youth hockey teams
Last Tuesday, as 10- and 11 year-old players from the Blizzard and Cyclones squads of the A-Game Peewee House League prepared themselves for their game, a cameraman walked through the locker room to take video of the players’ tying their skates and buckling their helmets. The cameraman told the parents and players that the video was part of an upcoming TV commercial for A-Game Sportsplex.
As both would learn, however, the film crew had nothing to do with the arena they were playing in on Tuesday.
“We all kind of thought something was going on when they were recording us in the locker room,” Blizzard forward Quentin Rummo told reporters after the game.
During the final minutes of warm-ups, the door to the arena swung open and a crowd of more than 200 people led by a drum line, the Nashville Predators’ mascot, Gnash, Preds Dancers and Ice Girls took over the arena. As the players looked around in shock, Predators coaches Barry Trotz, Peter Horachek, Lane Lambert and Brent Peterson took a spot next to the youth players’ own coaches on the bench. Lastly, the voice of Paul McCann, the public address announcer for the Predators, filtered through the speakers as the Predators held a SmashMob.
The team, who decided to pull of the SmashMob in an effort to show the young players what it was like to play in a professional environment, came up with the idea about a month ago. Somehow the Preds managed to keep the event quiet with many of those more than 200 people coming to the game under the premise that they were attending a pizza party hosted by the Preds. After the fans arrived and ate some pizza, however, Preds staff began handing out signs and noise makers to the group.
“Tonight’s event was tremendous,” Preds Executive Vice President Chris Parker said. “It was hugely successful and we couldn’t’ have asked for a better turnout. This type of event speaks volumes as to how far hockey has come in Middle Tennessee and how the fan base has grown over the past couple of years. I think the fact that we were able to keep the SmashMob secret from the youth teams, while still getting several hundred people out to A-Game made it that much more special of an experience for all involved.”
After the end of the game, a 2-0 victory for the Blizzard, the players changed into their normal clothes and headed out into herd of reporters waiting to speak with them.
“It was an incredible experience for the boys,” Blizzard coach Matt Dunn told reporters after the game. “You could see the adrenaline flowing through them; they couldn’t keep the smiles off their faces. They were flying all over the ice. Having all that enthusiasm with the crowd noise really made it special for these kids.”
It’s nice to know that even with the lockout, some good stories can still come out of NHL teams.