Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Washington Capitals. The four games between the two long-time foes have been brutal. The series has featured big hits, head shots, and taunting between rival fans. But during the morning skate, Braden Holtby cut through all of that nonsense and showed why he’s a great human.
The Caps goaltender, who is likely to win this season’s Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie, gave his stick to Brian Azinheira, a 11-yr old Penguins fan battling cancer.
— Ryan Recker (@RyanRecker) May 4, 2016
Look how happy Azinheira is.
“It’s what we play the game for is to create positive influences on people,” Holtby said. “The Penguins are doing a great thing having him as their guest and luckily we got to share a little part of that and hopefully make his day a little better.”
Azinheira, a youth hockey goalie and Conneticut native, was invited to the game by Penguins center Nick Bonino. On top of having a moment with Holtby, Azinheira got to meet Pens’ stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Marc-Andre Fleury. He even got to play some hockey in the bowels of CONSOL Energy Center with Bonino.
According to Brian’s GofundMe page (which you can donate to), the cancerous tumor revealed itself due to a hockey injury.
Brian Azinheira is an 11 year old young athlete and happy go lucky kid. He loves to laugh and joke with his friends and will play any sport anytime, anywhere. Brian is a hockey, soccer, lacrosse and flag football player and can’t wait for the next game.
Unfortunately, Brian has a battle ahead of him, but he is a tough kid and has the positive energy needed to get him through. During hockey season, where he plays goalie, he suffered an arm injury that looked to be just a torn bicep. After missing two months to heal his arm, he had just started skating again and reinjured his arm.
Brian and his family got the devastating news that he has a cancerous tumor in the bone of his arm (osteosarcoma). He has a long road ahead of him, as his treatment plan at Yale New Haven Hospital consists of 10 weeks of chemotherapy, followed by surgery on his arm, and then an additional 17 weeks of chemotherapy.
Two months ago, Caps goaltending coach Mitch Korn left a sweet comment on Azinheira’s GoFundMe page.
“The Washington Capitals and all of us in the GOALIE UNION are rooting for you!!” Korn wrote. “If you are a goalie, we know you are tough as nails and will this battle!!”
What a bunch of class acts.
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