A new goaltender and goal-scorer helped lift the Golden Knights’ spirits Friday during a five-game home losing streak.
The Knights signed Jay Procter, 12, and Jace Owen, 8, to one-day contracts with the help of Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada, and the two practiced with the team at City National Arena.
Owen scored on backup goaltender Malcolm Subban, and Procter stopped shots from forward Reilly Smith and defenseman Shea Theodore before fighting with forward Ryan Reaves.
“You know, he kicked me in the pads and you can’t take that, so I went after him and dropped the mitts and beat him up,” Procter said.
Procter, a longtime Marc-Andre Fleury fan, traveled from Windsor, Ontario, to join the Knights. He has a condition known as complete heart block, which occurs when electrical signals can’t travel from the heart’s upper to lower chambers, but wears a pacemaker and plays hockey.
Owen, who said his favorite part of the day was scoring on Subban, fell in love with the Knights during the team’s run to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. He spent three months in a hospital near his home of Edmonton, Alberta, last spring being treated for the blood disorder hemophilia and watched every playoff game.
His health is now “impeccable,” according to his mother, Leanne, and he said he had fun during his day at practice. His time with the team isn’t over either, as he and Procter will watch warmups from the bench Saturday before the Knights play the Nashville Predators.
The team hopes the pair is the good-luck charm it needs to win its first home game since Jan. 19.
“It was a blast,” Reaves said. “Obviously the smiles on their faces put smiles on our faces. I think we need a couple smiles around this room right now. We had fun, and I know they did, too.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs brought plenty of visiting fans to T-Mobile Arena on Thursday, something center Auston Matthews noted after his team’s 6-3 win over the Knights.
“I think a lot of fans circle this one on the calendar for a nice little vacation,” Matthews said Thursday. “We get a crowd no matter where, but obviously tonight you could definitely hear it in the stadium as well.”
Knights forward Erik Haula, who had right knee surgery after being injured Nov. 6, watched practice from the bench Friday. Coach Gerard Gallant said there was optimism that Haula may be able to return this season.
“I haven’t gotten an update in a long time, but he’s doing real well,” Gallant said. “Moving forward I have no idea. I can’t say he’s going to play. I’m not saying he’s not (going to play).”