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TORONTO - Washington Capitals star forward Alex Ovechkin promised a 13-year-old cancer survivor that he would score a goal during Saturday’s game against Toronto.
Then the NHL superstar went out and scored three of them, in the Capitals’ 4-3 victory against the Maple Leafs.
When Ovechkin beat Maple Leafs goalie Curtis McElhinney at 12:43 of the first period, he gestured toward the stands at Air Canada Centre where he thought Alex Luey was sitting, NHL.com reported.
An hour earlier, the teenager was sitting on the Capitals bench when Ovechkin skated to him and promised to score a goal.
Ovechkin scored again before the first period ended and added the hat trick with nine seconds left in the third period.
Luey, a youth hockey player with the Niagara Falls Flyers, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma last year, NHL.com reported. He had part of his right leg amputated, but has returned to play thanks to a prosthesis.
When Sportsnet held its "Hometown Hockey" telecast in Niagara Falls on Oct. 8, hosts Ron MacLean and Tara Slone surprised Luey with a video message from Ovechkin, his favorite NHL player.
“Hi, Alex. It's your buddy Ovi,” Ovechkin said in the video. “I hear you're cancer-free. You're coming to the game in Toronto in November. I can't wait to meet you, so I'll see you there soon.”
On Saturday, with the Maple Leafs celebrating Hockey Fights Cancer, Luey's hockey dream came true.
In the locker room before the game, Ovechkin gave Luey a quick pep talk. He was invited to read the starting lineup to the players. Upon the mention of each name, the player gave a yell.
“That's the best pregame pep talk I've ever heard,” coach Barry Trotz told NHL.com. “I didn't have to do anything to get the guys fired up. It was all Alex.”