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Photos by Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
Komets hockey fan Keegan Edwards, 5, skates by Komets Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, left, and Sean O’Connor at Headwaters Park Ice Rink. The public had the chance to skate with Komets on Sunday.

Fans chilling out with favorite K’s

Komets sees event as chance to say thanks

Kyler Smith, 5, hangs out with Komets Keith Rodger, left, and P.C. Drouin at Headwaters Park.

It was a teeth-chattering 15 degrees Sunday, but the frigid temperatures didn’t keep die-hard Komets fans from joining their favorite players on the ice.

For the fourth year, the Headwaters Park Ice Rink held “Skate With the Komets Day.” People of all ages could skate with players, request autographs or learn a little trick or two on the ice. The event was from 2 to 4 p.m. and drew dozens of skaters, including most of the Komets hockey team.

“This is one of the days that only the hardy souls come out,” said Geoff Paddock, executive director of Headwaters Park Alliance. “The Komets are really good sports to come out here once a year. Young and old alike really enjoy this.”

Conner Partaker, who turns 11 today, came to skate wearing a new Komets jersey he’d received for his birthday.

“I love them; they’re my favorite hockey team,” he said, holding his jersey and looking down at all the signatures he’d collected. His most-prized autograph, which he’d gotten earlier in the week, came from Zamboni driver Paul Hollabaugh.

“I bet I’m the only one who has it,” he said, beaming.

Forward Neil Musselwhite stood in the middle of the rink Sunday with his bare hands in his pockets to keep them warm.

He braved the weather, he said, to give back to fans.

“We have great fans who support us every night, and this is a way to thank them,” he said. “It’s all really flattering”

Musselwhite learned to skate when he was 2, he said. Unlike many of the children at the rink Sunday, he never used any skating aids.

“My dad didn’t teach me that way,” he said. “He just put me in skates and put me on the ice and let me fend for myself. I’m from Canada, and that’s just part of the culture there.”

Center Colin Chaulk, also from Canada, came to the rink with his 2-year-old daughter, Caprie.

He said he comes to the event every year because it’s important to support the rink.

“You’re sitting here kind of shivering, but it brings back memories of when you were a kid,” he said.

“I started at a rink like this.”