Disbelief.

I’m pinching myself in between moments of staring at the lock screen on my iPhone.

Two weeks later, I still question whether I truly skated with my Carolina Hurricanes, but here I am wearing the signed jersey (that’s two sizes too big) and staring at this particular picture. Me. Sitting on the visiting bench at PNC Arena. Next to my favorite player Jeff Skinner.

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Hanging with my favorite player Jeff Skinner.

Pardon while I squeal in glee.

A little background…I’ve been a Carolina Hurricanes fan since they wore blue and green and were called the Hartford Whalers. And ever since I heard about the Skate with Canes event, I wanted to buy a ticket and participate. I mean, it’s the chance for fans to get close to the team for the afternoon, participating in three activities each with a different set of players at each station.

As part of the silver group, our first stop was the skate. The opportunity to skate on NHL ice. Serious quality, fresh NHL ice especially because we were the first group. Even if I wasn’t there with my boys in the red and white, still the chance of a lifetime.

I bumped into Chris Terry first – almost literally. We took a quick selfie but then I noticed Skinner as I made a loop at center ice, filming each slide of my blades for posterity as they pass over the PNC Arena logo. I headed straight over to the visitor’s bench to hop in the photo line. I’ve been a fan of Skinner’s since his rookie season when he won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. The guy can skate and has some serious skill with the puck. (I don’t know that I’ve forgiven the league for not awarding him the NHL Player of the Week when he had two hat tricks earlier in the season.)

I was also able to catch Jordan Staal in the penalty box – not that he spends a lot of time there usually – and Kris Versteeg was hanging out at center ice. I can say that I became a fan of “Steeger” that day. Such a laidback guy, but I wouldn’t expect any less of a Lethbridge boy.

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With (clockwise from top left) Chris Terry, Jordan Staal, Kris Versteeg and Ron Hainsey

Before we moved on to the locker room. I also tried my luck at stickhandling and shooting. Not many times, you have the opportunity to shoot on an NHL goalie. Eddie Lack was a very helpful coach, pointing out when I left the puck at the last cone – how embarrassing. Once I retrieved it, I shot and scored!!! I wasn’t as lucky against defenseman Ron Hainsey, missing the net entirely. His comment: “You have to dump the puck in sometimes.” Indeed.

Eddie Lack

She shoots, she scores! Sorry, Eddie.

Stay tuned for the second part of my recap to be posted tomorrow. I survived the Canes locker room and had a reunion with Tripp Tracy, John Forslund and Michelle McMahon before the player autograph session.

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