NHL players help send B.C. hockey fan to first playoff game
The friendship between Vancouver Island girl Elsie Simard and Colorado Avalanche forward Alex Newhook is making waves on social media.
Newhook, who's currently playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs, used to play junior hockey for the Victoria Grizzlies.
It was in B.C.'s capital where the pair first met.
"I saw her the first time she was there," said Newhook. "Just went down and gave her a little fist bump."
Elsie was born premature, and has spent much of her life in the hospital. But while she was there, she could always count on a visit from Newhook.
According to Elsie's family, the hockey rink would help serve as her equalizer.
"Inside here there are no restrictions. She can be just like anybody else," said her mother, Christie Simard.
Sadly, Elsie and Newhook's friendship took a shift in 2019, when Newhook's junior hockey career ended and Elsie and her mother moved from Victoria to Battleford, Sask.
The pair reunited in March when Elsie's family drove four hours to Edmonton to catch their first NHL game.
The Colorado Avalanche won that game, and Newhook and Elsie got a chance to see each other again. Soon after, word of their friendship took the spotlight.
"My phone blew up," said the girl's mother.
OFF TO THE PLAYOFFS
An online fundraiser was quickly set up, with the purpose of sending Elsie to her first NHL playoff game.
The campaign was a success, and Elsie flew to Denver last week, with other players from the Avalanche pitching in.
"Erik Johnson helped with tickets and accommodation," said Simard.
The team won both its games to move on to the second round of the playoffs, and the Simard family says they were treated like royalty.
But Elsie didn't arrive in Denver empty handed.
She brought the team handmade bars of soap since Newhook is her original "stinky boy."
"We brought stinky hockey boy soap," said Simard.
Elsie's been making a positive impact from her roots in Victoria to Colorado.
"She makes everybody else's world better around her," said Sheryl Williams with the Victoria Grizzlies. "She's a force."
And Newhook agrees.
"She's always been a light in my life," he said.