Moxley’s moxie reminds us of what’s important

Sometimes we lose sight of what is important in sports.

It’s the little things that can matter the most. We can get caught up in the emotions of the playoffs and we can take things too seriously as sports fans, sometimes lashing out at people in public or online.

However, earlier in the week, there was a moment that occurred during an NHL game that reminds us that the smallest of gestures can mean the most in the end.

For those who haven’t seen the video clip, there was a first-grader named Keelan Moxley, who was at Game 2 of a playoff series between the Washington Capitals and the Columbus Blue Jackets. During warmups before the game, she stood right in front of the glass, dressed in her bright red Caps jersey in between two boys.

She happily pounded the glass as the Washington players skated by and she was spotted by Capitals forward Brett Connolly. Players oftentimes toss pucks into the crowd before games, usually to kids as a souvenir, and that’s what Connolly did.

Or at least he tried to.

He skated over to the glass, pointed at Moxley with his stick and tossed the puck over the glass to her. It didn’t get to its destination though as some guy, who was standing behind her, caught the puck and gave it to one of the boys next to her.

The look on her face was heartbreaking as she watched the kid next to her enjoy his prize.

Well, Connolly noticed that and he went back to collect another puck to give to Moxley. However, that same guy decided to intercept that puck too and give it to the other boy standing next to her. Connolly saw what happened and is clearly annoyed with this clown, who felt the need to interfere with his simple plan of giving a puck to a little girl. So he banged on the glass directly in front of Moxley as if to firmly indicate that this puck is definitely hers. Finally, on the third attempt, Moxley finally got her puck and was ecstatic. She showed it to whomever was right behind her, clutched it to her chest and hopped up and down with a big grin on her face. It was a longer road than it should’ve been for her to get that souvenir, but when she got it, Moxley showed how much Connolly’s gesture meant to her.

After the clip went viral, Moxley became famous and her mother, Lauren, made a video of her daughter sharing her story and it was shown on CBC News: The National. When asked how she felt when the boys got the pucks before she did, Moxley adorably said that she was “demastated,” but that she was happy for the two boys.

When she got the puck, Moxley said she felt “really happy” and was going to bring the puck to school.

Things got even better for Moxley though as she also will get to sit by the glass for Game 5 as Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is giving Moxley’s family his seats for the game. So it was a happy ending for her after some initial disappointment.

Kids like Moxley do the same thing at Northern Michigan University hockey games, hoping to get pucks from the players before the games.

They also gather along the tunnel again after the games are over to see if they receive an even bigger souvenir, a stick from one of the players. It’s fun to watch them excitedly hope that they are one of the lucky ones as there’s usually only a handful of sticks handed out. Some will leave disappointed, but it makes them look forward to coming back for the next game. The kids that do get sticks walk away thrilled though. You can tell that made their night, even if the Wildcats didn’t end up winning the game. One time, a little girl, who was about the same size as Moxley, maybe slightly taller, was walking down the stairs near the postgame press conference area. She was holding a puck in one hand and attempting to carry a stick in the other. Seeing as she got a goalie stick, which was about as big as she was, that wasn’t an easy task for her. However, she wouldn’t let her dad help her and when she got to the bottom of the stairs, she excitedly told her dad how happy she was that she got both a puck and a stick from the game. Then she said “And the Wildcats won!” as she walked out the door with her father. The sheer joy on her face when she was leaving was truly heartwarming to see.

According to Moxley’s mom in an interview with ESPN, Keelan has become a huge fan of Connolly and can’t stop talking about him. After a tough but brief setback, Moxley ended up having a memory that she will treasure. Just like that other little girl at the Berry Events Center a few weeks ago, she left the arena happy and eager to come back again.

Having fun, making memories and becoming fans for life. That’s what is really important.

And that’s what sports is all about.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.