Hockeytown Winter Festival draws fans from all over
6:24 PM, Dec 31, 2013
DETROIT (WXYZ) - It's a showdown for the ages as NHL alumni show they still got it in front of thousands of fans. The thousands in attendance were smart to layer up, grab a cup of hot chocolate, and stay close to friends.
But the legendary players burning up the rink kept fans feeling like they were part of history.
"Growing up I was always a Steve Yzerman fan," said Scott Kirkham, "But today, there are guys I didn't get to see growing, so it's exciting."
"I'm waiting for them to call my name since I got the jersey on," said a very excited John Meyers, "Maybe we'll get to play later. I got the stuff in the car!"
The guys on the ice are about the closest thing to a Dream Team for these hockey fans. And the excitement spans generations, all ready to see an alumni showdown for the ages. The smartest of fans knew to bundle up.
"I'm not gonna say how many layers I have on," said Meyers, "But I'm not sure if I'll be going to the bathroom anytime soon."
"Oh, we just love the Red Wings from those 90's years," said fan Judy Kocsis, "So it's just really cool to see all the players we love."
"How unique is this to come out and watch a game in [the baseball] stadium?" said Randy Conflitti, "Only Detroit."
As the Hockeytown Winter Festival draws thousands of fans from all over, we found a group who fought tooth and nail for a chance to not only watch the pros, but play a little hockey themselves.
"We just wanted to come down here and just try to compete." said coach Brian Ruiz, "We wanted to see where these kids were on the map with the rest of the nation."
With Coach Dave Ruiz at the helm, a group of kids who have traveled thousands of miles make up one tough squad. They're the AK Selects; a group of 12-year-olds assembled from all over Alaska.
Ruiz put the team together with the hopes of raising money to travel outside their home state and play competitive hockey. Back in September, the team traveled to the Motor City and won the Hometown Hockey Challenge.
"It was pretty cool." said Ruiz, "By winning the tourney we had the opportunity to play in the Hockeytown Winter Festival."
"In Alaska, the competition isn't as good as out here." said AK Selects player Keegan McDonald, "It was a nice way to train and gain more skills.
"I don't know what to say," said Galen Brantley, watching the NHL alumni teams warmup, "It's just too good."
"Amazing," said Jaden Hughes, "Just watching my favorite players play. It's great."
And as their hockey careers now just get started, the long journey from home gives these young Alaskans a chance to see the pros, dream big, and maybe one day step out onto the NHL ice themselves.