'Amazing' day for atom player

KEN BROWN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:19 AM ET

A dream scenario for any young hockey player in Canada might be to line up against The Great Gretzky.

Yesterday, that dream became a reality for 10-year-old Blake Strong.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance," Strong said outside Wayne Gretzky's restaurant of the "amazing" opportunity.

"I got to face-off against Wayne Gretzky."

Strong's atom hockey team, the Clarington Toros, was one of 12 Ontario teams that earned a chance to play in the inaugural 3-on-3 Ford of Canada Pins to Win charity street hockey tournament in support of Ontario Minor Hockey and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Atom hockey teams ordered batches of pink hockey-stick pins which sold for $5 apiece, and teams were awarded one ballot for every order of 50 pins. More than 10,000 pins were ordered.

"Everybody understands how big hockey is in our country," Gretzky said. "When you can combine youth hockey and be able to help something as serious as breast cancer, it's always exciting."

Although Gretzky's mother, Phyllis, died of cancer in 2005, he said his sister-in-law has battled breast cancer for 15 years. He added hockey dads get a lot of the credit, but the moms are integral, too.

"The biggest thing for the kids is how important their mothers are to them," he said, noting it's something several younger children realize later in life.

The Waterloo Wolves II wound winning the 3-on-3 tournament.


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