Sound Tigers Add Special Player to RosterFeb 19, 2019
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have skated in more tight contests than anyone else in the American Hockey League this season. With 33 games being decided by just one goal, a strong, menacing defense is at an all-time premium for Brent Thompson's club.
On Tuesday, the Sound Tigers made a key move to add speed and durability to their lineup. The New York Islanders' affiliate partnered with Make-A-Wish Connecticut for the second straight season and signed 12-year-old defenseman Kaden Symington to a professional tryout contract. He joined the team during its morning practice at Webster Bank Arena.
It was an exciting morning for the team and a dream come true for Kaden, who is battling a congenital heart disease that's required several surgeries and caused him to stop playing hockey. The Ridgefield, Conn. native also recently had another wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, going to Hawaii.
“Here's a young man who's stronger than most of us will ever be, and it's great to be able to share a day with him and put a smile on his face,” said Thompson, who introduced him as the newest Sound Tiger in front of the locker room. “We could really use another defenseman to make life easier on our goalies. Kaden is just the guy.”
After signing on the dotted line and greeting each of his new teammates, Kaden, sporting his favorite No. 19, suited up in a brand-new Sound Tigers jersey.
He shared a stall with fourth-year captain Ben Holmstrom, who escorted the youngster through the home team's tunnel and onto the ice. Holmstrom also helped Kaden tighten his laces one last time, and ate breakfast and lunch with him.
Although timid and quiet early on, Kaden quickly transformed once his skates hit the ice, and his energy level skyrocketed. He took a few hot laps in the far zone, followed by warm-up shots on goaltenders Christopher Gibson and Jeremy Smith. Kaden watched the team's formal practice on the bench and was joined on occasion by AHL All-Stars Sebastian Aho and Michael Dal Colle.
Near the end of practice, Kaden once again took the ice and participated in a few shooting drills on Gibson with the net pushed towards the near corner.
“That was a really fun practice,” Holmstrom said. “That's what it's all about.”
“Most of us in here are beyond fortunate for not only our health, but because we get to be pro hockey players for a living,” Holmstrom added. “It's nice to be able to give back and Kaden deserved to have some fun out there. I hope he enjoyed it as much as we did.”
Kaden will return to Webster Bank Arena on Saturday, March 23, when the Sound Tigers battle the Belleville Senators for Make-A-Wish Night and a trading card giveaway to the first 2,000 fans. A portion of the game's proceeds will go back to Make-A-Wish Connecticut to generate funds in order to grant future wishes.
For tickets or more information to the Sound Tigers game on March 23, please call 203-345-2300 ext. 7 or click here.