OPINION: This is the stuff hockey legends are made of

Kraig Wright of the Petrolia Squires

Every Friday night, the hockey faithful gather at the Greenwood to watch their beloved Squires.

It’s an interesting collection of teens and seniors, children and middle-agers who all share a passion for the sport. The game is fast and physical and usually pretty exciting because this year, the home team is strong and very often treat the fans to a win.

But hockey is more than just a score. Like any other sport, the stories that unfold in and around the game make it more than just a game.

Take Friday night and the story of Kraig Wright. Wright practically came out of the womb with skates on. He’s been playing since he was three. He spent his formative minor hockey years in Mooretown and played triple A in Sarnia. He played until he was too old and then, three years ago, he came to the Squires to continue playing the game he loves.

Wright is a solid player  – the Squires top scorer in the regular season with 11 goals – and he’s a playmaker, too, with 12 assists. In the playoffs, he’s already scored three times in the first round. One of those goals was Friday night and it was memorable.

Wright, as he tells it, was going in after a puck when he saw the blade of a stick headed for his face. Before he knew it, there was a lot of pain and blood and a gash around his nose.

For most of us, that would have put a damper on our Friday night – but not Wright. As arena staff was cleaning up the ice, Wright took off his helmet, skates and gloves and piled into a car heading down Dufferin Street to CEE Hospital’s ER.

The staff there didn’t seem too shocked to see the 27 year-old blooded warrior in a hockey uniform; “They didn’t really say much,” Wright told me. “Petrolia is a small town, so I’m thinking they’ve seen this before.”

They put in some freezing, stitched up the gash around his nose and sent him off. Instead of finding the nearest comfortable chair and an bag of ice, Wright went back to the Greenwood, found his skates, helmet and gloves put them on.  Why did he come back? “Just because I love hockey,” he says. “I felt bad I was missing the game.” I just wanted to help my team

When he skated back onto the ice, the fans were amazed. “Is that 19 back? Yeah, it is!”

Wright wasn’t just back to sit on the bench, moments later he was on the ice, blazing down the ice and scoring, breaking the 4-4 tie the Squires had fallen into. The arena erupted and Wright was mobbed by his line mates. “I’ve never experienced  anything like that in my life,” he says. “It was really quick  – I couldn’t believed I just scored.”

That’s the stuff of hockey legends. That’s why the hockey faithful head to the Greenwood on Friday night.