Hoeg has experience most can only dream of

Dave
Dave Mathieson
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Hoeg has experience most can only dream of

AMHERST?- He's only 10 years old, stands at 4'9" and weighs in at 90 pounds.
He's been called up by the NHL to play goal during the All-Star weekend.
He's in the big show now.
In his first game against the NHL's greatest stars, the Calgary Flames Dion Phaneuf skates in on a break away.
Phaneuf dekes left, dekes right and takes a shot.
The young goaltender keeps his cool, keeps his eye on the puck and makes a spectacular glove save.
Sound like the stuff dreams are made of?
Well for young Connor Hoeg of Southampton the dream became a reality when he travelled to Atlanta with his father, Matt, for the All-Star Weekend as one of 12 winners of the McDonalds 'In the Line-up' Contest.
Upon his arrival in Atlanta last Friday, Connor and his dad, along with the other contest winners, were escorted to a small room where they had dinner.
Not 10 minutes into their meal, in walked Dion Phaneuf and Eric Staal. Staal and Phaneuf drafted the 12 young players to the Eastern and Western Conferences, with Connor going to Staal's Eastern Conference Team.
Not long after they were drafted, former all-stars Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, Tony Esposito and Frank Mahovlich entered the room, followed by the Stanley Cup.
"That was really cool," said Connor. "The Cup was ginormous. I couldn't lift it."
The kids were all outfitted in matching McDonald's All-Star attire and the next morning Connor and his dad were bussed to the all-Star practice at Philips Arena, the home of the Atlanta Thrashers.
After watching the teams practice Connor got to do what most kids only dream of - he visited the Eastern Conference dressing room.
"All the players were standing there. I was speechless, I was star-struck," said Connor.
While in the dressing room he asked the leagues top superstars to sign an 8x11 picture of his Cumberland County Atom AAA team.
"I showed the picture to Ovechkin," said Connor.
Ovechkin nudged the young goaltender and said 'that's pretty cool."
On Saturday afternoon, Connor attended an hour-long skills clinic with Phaneuf and Staal at the Atlanta Thrashers practice facility.
After the clinic the kids had an East vs. West game where Staal captained Connor's Eastern Conference team while Phaneuf captained the West.
Connor said the game was the highlight of his weekend.
"It was really fun," said Connor. "The best part was probably when I made a glove save on Dion Phaneuf."
"He robbed Phaneuf pretty good a few times," added Connor's dad.
On Saturday night it was off to the all-star skills competition then on Sunday he took part in dress rehearsals for the big game.
"When he went on the ice for the national anthem with the starting lineup it was amazing seeing him out there," said Matt. "It was breathtaking, I got goose bumps and teary eyed just watching.
"There were so many talented players out there," Matt added. "And to see your son out there with all those players in that kind of atmosphere with 20,000 people in the building. I was flabbergasted. I can't put into words how excited I was."
Connor received many keepsakes from his trip, including two McDonald's All-Star hockey jerseys, plus helmet, gloves and pants and a Sidney Crosby RBK composite stick.
But what he cherishes most of all are gifts he received from Eric Staal.
"He wrote Connor a letter telling him how much he enjoyed meeting him and hanging out with him for the weekend," said Matthew. "And he gave Connor an autographed NHL all-star jersey."
What does Connor think of the weekend where dreams came true?
"It was really fun, I wish I could do it every year," he said. "If I play in net in an actual all-star game some day, that would be wow."

dmathieson@amherstdaily.com








Organizations: NHL, McDonald's, Atlanta Thrashers Eastern and Western Conferences Philips Arena Cumberland County Atom AAA

Geographic location: Atlanta

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