Will’s Hockey Story

                   to make a reality of...

NOW, Will has his own NHL 24 hockey team

In between Will met NHL hockey players

THEN, it all started with a question
about hockey sticks…

“What are those?”

It all started when Will’s dad took Will and his sister

along when he went shopping at a used sports equipment store. Will was probably around 4 ½, so his little sister would have been about 2 ½. The kids saw hockey sticks and wondered what they were. Dad figured that it would be something new for the kids to try, so he looked through the bin to find some “just-to-try-it” priced sticks. They bought two, brought them home, and had to try them out immediately.

Dad and the kids took their sticks and a tennis ball and went outside. Their rink was the cement patio—encircled by the wood-framed patio furniture. Will was already very unstable on his feet, so Dad propped him up, leaning him against the larger loveseat-sized chair that was against the wall of the house.

Will was armed with his hockey stick

and Dad explained that his job was to keep the tennis ball (aka “the puck”) out of the goal. “You’re the goalie, you keep the puck out of the goal. Don’t let the tennis ball go under the chair.”

He stood Will’s little sister (who was also armed with her hockey stick) about 10′ in front of Will. He told her that her job was to get the puck into the goal. “Try to get the tennis ball to go under the chair.”

Easy rules. Competitive game. They loved it—Will especially.

With a 2 ½-year-old forward and a 4 ½-year-old goalie who had to lean on the goal, they were pretty evenly matched. The ball went out of the “rink” a lot, but they played the game enthusiastically and often. 

Shortly after getting their hockey sticks, Will found out his cousin had just started playing on a youth hockey team! When his cousin came to visit sometime later, Will had fun playing hockey with him!

That was the beginning. From then on, as Dad surfed on TV while Will watched with him, Will wanted him to stop at every hockey game to watch it. The family started watching hockey games together and Will became an avid fan. He’d start out each game picking which team he wanted to win that game (not knowing anything about any of them.) He’d cheer each victory. He’d mourn each loss (sometimes with tears!)

He came to realize that the Pittsburgh Penguins

were a very winning team so he figured he’d watch their games and cheer for them (fewer losses to mourn.) Then one day he saw one of their players being interviewed. He was the goalie (Will “is” a goalie) and he had a towel draped around his neck (Will always has a towel handy.) That cemented the whole deal. Will was now a die-hard Pittsburgh Penguins fan and Matt Murray was his favorite player! The next Christmas, he asked Santa for a Gatorade towel just like Matt Murray’s.

The family got the NHL channel so they wouldn’t miss any games and watched the Penguins win the Stanley cup. Will’s mom, who knew nothing about hockey before this, became a staunch fan along with Will and now knows all the ins and outs and ups and downs of hockey and can rattle off players’ stats like she’s been following it forever!

They bought a hockey game so Will and Dad could play and talk positions and strategies.

Later they bought a hockey goal so Will could play goalie indoors or out.


Knowing that Will had such a love for the game, Mom looked into opportunities in Dallas.

She took Will and his sister to the Dallas Stars hockey practices and Dad came when he could.

They went so often, they met some office people. Even one of the players (the goalie!) noticed the little kid in the wheel chair and gave him special attention.

Will with Kari Lehtonen, the goaltender for the Dallas Stars

Mom found out the Dallas Stars have a sled hockey team

(for physically handicapped players)
so they went to the practice and after Mom asked about the possibilities, Will suited up to play sled hockey.

Months before the Penguins came to Dallas to play the Stars, Mom got an idea and set a goal.

She pursued that goal even though she faced tons of hurdles and a few brick walls. She achieved that goal and Will was thrilled! Will met Matt Murray!!


Matt Murray with Will

The following season another hockey highlight took place

in the Dallas area, this time at an Allen Americans hockey game. They are the “farm team” for the Minnesota Wild NHL team. Will was a featured guest. He appeared on the big screen as he was introduced to the crowd and he dropped the puck at the beginning of the game.

Later that same season, he once again joined the Allen Americans on the ice.

This time he was suited up in his hockey uniform and seated on his hockey sled. He came on to the ice with the team in the midst of flashing lights, rousing cheers, and clanking noise makers! Then he was introduced to the crowd with the team members!

Years have passed, but

Will’s love of hockey is still constantly evident

and his whole family enjoys being part of his enthusiasm. His grandpa, who grew up on the Iron Range in northern Minnesota, is a lifelong hockey fan. An old friend, a member of the Executive Board of the US Hockey Hall of Fame, learned of Will’s love of hockey and arranged for a special recognition of that. Will became a proud “Gold Star Member” of the US Hockey Hall of Fame!

Several years ago,
Will got an X-box for Christmas.

Of course, the first thing that was put on the X-box was NHL.

Working together, Will and Dad started with the game “Be a Pro” and created Will’s avatar.
“Will” (the  avatar) is tall and muscular with a
square jaw and thick, wavy, tousled blond hair
– and he doesn’t take any guff from anybody!

Will and Dad played NHL a LOT and became very adept at their individual roles as “pilot” and “co-pilot.”
Dad controlled where “Will” was on the ice, and Will controlled all of his passes and shots on goal.
“Will” was a good player and played on a number of teams before eventually being traded to the Penguins!
“Will” and the Penguins won the Stanley Cup several times and “Will” was voted MVP!!

Then Will decided to create his own team.

In NHL 24,
Will’s “Hockey Ultimate Team”
is made up of “real” players
–legends, both past and present–
from various NHL teams.

In this version of the game,
Dad (with his remote)
controls the positions of all the players on Will’s team,
and Will (with his remote with 2 large circular pads)
controls all of the passes and shots on goal!

Dad says they kind of “mind meld”
to make it all work.  
And it works very well!
Playing against the computer,
Will’s team has a very good record!

Will has even made a “Michigan goal!”
He tried to do it (for months and months!) whenever the puck was behind the net.
Finally, he succeeded! Will was delighted
and Dad was amazed!!

He hasn’t been able to do it again—yet…
but Will keeps trying!

Through the years,

Will has also developed a passion for football.

He knows the plays and the strategy and all the ref’s signs for both hockey and football and really gets involved in the games!

He enjoys many raucous hours with his dad watching their favorite sports events on TV!

Find out more about how Will tries

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