Sound Tigers Add Special Players to Roster
Brent Thompson has been looking for more offense. He's wanted to add a bit more speed, size, and strength.
On Tuesday morning, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach may have found each of those qualities in his two newest players. Ok well maybe not so much on the size, but their immense strength makes up for it.
The Sound Tigers partnered with Make-A-Wish Connecticut and welcomed Sam Lopa, 11, and Caleb Desjarlais, 4, to practice at Webster Bank Arena, signing the two young boys to professional tryout contracts.
“I know we've been looking for some goal scoring,” Thompson said at the front of the Sound Tigers locker room, just before each boy pulled a personalized team sweater over his head. “We've got a little bit of size,” pointing to Sam, “and a little bit of speed,” he said while placing his hand on Caleb.
WATCH: News 12 Connecticut coverage
It was an exciting morning for the team and a small dream come true for the boys. Caleb is battling a rare white blood cell disease and Sam has a rare gastrointestinal disorder and has already gone through three life-saving surgeries. Both children recently had other wishes granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, going to Disney World and Sea World, respectively.
After signing on the dotted line and greeting each of their new teammates in the dressing room, Sam, sporting No. 5, and Caleb, in Josh Ho-Sang's No. 26, each suited up and headed to the ice.
Caleb, who used Kyle Burroughs' stall to get ready, was escorted through the home team's tunnel by the third-year defenseman. Burroughs also helped Caleb tighten his laces one last time, and ate breakfast and lunch with the youngster.
WATCH: WTNH News 8 coverage
Although timid and quiet in the locker room, the boys quickly transformed once their skates hit the ice and the energy level skyrocketed. Sam and Caleb took a few laps in the near zone, followed by warm-up shots on goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis. The boys watched the team's formal practice on the bench and caught more than just the action on the ice, getting hydrated by Scott Eansor, who squirted a water bottle towards their mouths every so often.
Near the end of practice, Sam and Caleb once again took the ice and participated in a shootout competition against Gudlevskis and Eamon McAdam.
“Listen, that was a really fun morning,” Thompson told Michael Fornabaio of the Connecticut Post. “It's nice to see two kids come in and be able to skate with us, to put a smile on their faces, to have a little fun with the guys. That's what hockey's supposed to be, fun.”
The boys will return to Webster Bank Arena on Saturday, March 10, when the Sound Tigers battle the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for Make-A-Wish and “ComiConn Night,” with character appearances schedule. A portion of all ticket sales, and food and beverage sales, will go back to Make-A-Wish Connecticut to help grant future wishes.
For tickets or more information to the Sound Tigers game on March 10, please call 203-345-2300 ext. 7 or click here.