Ben Belfitt was excited.
The six-year-old had a special party at his house on Sunday, with special guests from the North Bay Battalion.
A lineup of Justin Brazeau, Matt Struthers, Christian Propp. Bradley Chenier and Luke Moncada visited Ben’s home on Aberdeen Avenue to play on his outdoor rink for the afternoon.
Earlier this month, the Belfitt’s rink was named the winner of the annual Home Depot Outdoor Rink contest.
“I told my Dad it would be fun and it would be fun with my friends and the Battalion players,” said the well-spoken six-year-old who pointed out Justin Brazeau as the best player on his rink.
Brian Belfitt, Ben’s dad, did the work to get the 40 x 20 foot rink ready. He says it was a challenge getting it ready for Sunday’s event due to the heavy snow and freezing rain last week. However, the weather prevailed and made for perfect conditions for some backyard rink fun.
“My son all day was just chatter, chatter about Brazeau coming and the opportunity to just play and skate with these guys so it is a big deal for the community and the kids obviously just looking up to these big lads,” said Belfitt.
“You might think it’s small but in the aspect of things these kids really look up to the Battalion players, they play the same sport and some day they want to grow up to be just like them.”
The Battalion players were engaged and enjoyed playing with the youngsters too. For Brazeau it brought back a lot of outdoor rink memories from his days growing up in New Liskeard.
“If I was not playing hockey with my team I was in the backyard and my dad always made a rink for me growing up so it is definitely nice to get out with these guys,” said Brazeau.
As for Matthew Struthers, he grew up in the south but recalls his family renting a cottage in the north where he would spend endless hours playing hockey on the nearby frozen lake.
“It’s cool because we were once those kids dreaming to play for the Battalion so it is cool to see where their heads are at and spend some time with them out here,” said Struthers.