Kids are like sponges.  While there is room for debate over "nature vs. nurture," there's no denying that kids are products of their environment.

As a father of a 7 year-old boy, and a dyed-in-the-wool sports fan, it really is no surprise that my son is already hooked on any activity that includes a ball, bat, puck, you name it.

As a dad, I am constantly also trying to set a good example as a human being for him as well.  That is why the events that occurred last Friday could not have made me more proud.

And it happened at a Tri-City Americans hockey game...

I took my wife, son and a friend to Game 1 of the W.H.L.'s Western Conference play-off game in Kennewick last Friday where the Ams faced off with the Portland Winterhawks.  While the Ams came up short in overtime, it was what happened in the second period that I will always remember.

As we took our seats, my friend commented how great they were and joked that we might get hit by an errant shot.  Even though we were sitting virtually at center ice in the fourth row (adjacent to the penalty box in section M for those familiar with the Toyota Center) I assured my friend that it was highly unlikely considering the height of the Plexiglass and netting that surrounds the rink.

Famous last words..

Hockey is an extremely fast paced game.  For a passive fan, it usually takes most of the first period just to get your eyes adjusted to the speed at which the puck travels off of the stick.
During the second period, sure as Wayne Gretzky is "The Great One," a shot hurdled the boards and came whizzing right through our section landing about two rows behind us and a couple of seats to our right.  Or, so I thought...

I immediately turned to my buddy to acknowledge that he was indeed correct about the chance of being nailed.  I then turned to my wife and son to see their reaction.  When I went to ask my son, Drew, if he saw it, I realized he was actually in possession of the puck!  It had bounced off a few fans hands and landed in his lap!

This was Drew's first time attending a hockey game ever.  Truly a case of "Beginner's Luck".

Photo by: Todd E. Lyons, Esquire
Photo by: Todd E. Lyons, Esquire

I leaned over to the man sitting to the right of my child to get his eyewitness account as to how it wound up in the clutches of my lucky boy.  He told me that he thought it bounced off the head of a youngster sitting behind us.  I craned my neck to look, and sure enough, there was a tearful child who was being cradled in the arms of his his father, visible welt forming on his forehead.

I pointed him out to Drew and told him that he should give his newfound souvenir to the lad.  Drew lowered his head, visibly dejected.  Without uttering a word or putting up any resistance, he turned around in his chair, handed the puck to a woman seated behind him and asked her to hand it to the what looked to be about four year-old.

The crowd around us gave Drew, as  well as the injured boy, a nice round of applause.

After the period ended, my wife made a bee-line for the souvenir stand to replace the one that Drew had given up.

As did another complete stranger...

And another one besides her...

When we informed them we got Drew a puck, they simply handed the ones they had purchased to a couple of other young, pleasantly surprised, kids in our area.

While the outcome for the Americans fans that night was less than desired, I can tell you that what was displayed by the fans in Section M will last much longer in the life of my son than the outcome of any sporting event.

Good job, Drew.

Great job, Ams fans!

UPDATE: From my friend, comedian Craig Gass via Deadspin, what NOT to do!

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