Last Tuesday's Minnesota Wild game had a few tears and a happy ending -- all before the puck dropped.
While the Wild warmed up, three young fans — Emily Wiltzius and brothers Brayden and Logan McCann — looked on in hopes of catching a puck. As warm-up continued and his hands remained empty, seven-year-old Logan began to get worried, then teary, before breaking out into sobs, his hand pressed against the glass.
It's the kind of pathos that would thaw even the hardest heart.
Noticing the three kids, Mats Zuccarello skated near and to toss some pucks over the glass. Sandwiched between his big brother Brayden and 11-year-old Emily, Logan's chances of catching one were slim.
What ensued was the sweetest, most polite game of "hot potato" ever. Emily caught the first puck and handed it to Brayden. Brayden caught the second puck and handed it to Emily. She then handed the puck to a teary-eyed Logan.
All of it was caught on video and shared by the NHL on Twitter. Naturally, it went viral.
When Wild player Jason Zucker and his wife Carly saw the clip, they set out to find the kids and, in Carly's words, give them "ALL the pucks."
"As a parent, watching that little boy cry and that girl handing him the puck, it was heart-wrenching," said Carly. With the help of Twitter, they found the boys and sent them a package of signed gear. They invited them as guests to a Wild game in the future.
For Emily, a hockey player herself, the Zuckers offered tickets to Saturday night's game. There, she was presented with 26 pucks, signed by all the Minnesota Wild players.
"She said, 'I can't believe giving these boys these pucks turned into all this,'" said Carly. "She didn't realize how great it is to see those positive stories right now."
As for Logan, his mom Kim McCann says he's just "the kind of kid who wears his heart on his sleeve," so she wasn't surprised when she saw the video.
And, she added, he's been sleeping with the puck every night since the game.