It was the coaches, Andrew and Jen Generous, that found out about the contest to skate with the Canucks and brought the idea back to his Quesnel Atom team and encouraged them to enter.
And for that, both get a big thank you from Kaden and his father Mike Ernst, because when the winner came down, it was Kaden that would be out there in the middle of Rogers Arena with all of the lights flashing, and there standing between his heroes, Daniel Sedin and Kevin Bieksa as the stadium sang the National Anthem.
And though young Ernst is a taciturn fellow, it’s obvious he enjoyed the trip. It did, however, cause a few bumps.
In fact, the two Ernsts, along with another brother, had already planned a trip down to Vancouver to see the Canucks play when they heard the news Kaden had won the contest.
The trip was scheduled around the Dec. 6 game and was set to be a little bit of a whirlwind vacation – flying down on the sixth, which was a Friday, and coming back on the Saturday, the day before the Canucks played their second game of the weekend, which was to be the one Kaden was meant to skate with the players.
But who would deny a child the chance to skate with his heroes? So, the trip was changed, new plane tickets were bought and new reservations were made and the scene was set.
“It was a headache and a half, but it’s the chance of a lifetime,” Mike said.
The weekend now included two games and hockey equipment.
When father and son showed up to the Dec. 8 game, Kaden was ushered behind the scenes, where he was shown dressing rooms, the guts of the building and then sent out on the ice when the Canucks made their big debut of the game.
But the equipment Kaden had packed wasn’t his usual uniform, but his spring league jersey, which was chosen for one reason, which you can see in the picture above – Quesnel written in big letters down the arm.
Kaden was representing his home town in front of more people then there are residents in Quesnel.
‘Stay by the edge of the ice for the anthem unless the players invite you out,’ he was told.
Which was just what he did, for about a second, until Kevin Bieksa waved him over to stand between the two assistant captains.
It’s a memory that should stay with the young Ernst for some time to come as he skates the Twin Arena’s ice.