The kids got started with their usual skating drills, and then Nordy made his grand entrance. The response was not exactly what Nordy is used to. Let me put it this way. Most of the kids on this rink barely know what hockey is. They know it is on ice and they know you skate, but that is about it at this point. Moreover, even less of them know what the Minnesota Wild is (we're building a whole new fan base here at hockey in the hood).
So their actual response was more of an inquisitive stare than boisterous screaming. That being said they warmed up to Nordy pretty fast.
They were allowed to do a Question and Answer Session in which they could only ask yes/no questions. Most of the questions revolved around what kind of animal Nordy is. "Are you a fox?" one child asked.
Nordy shrugged as if to say, "I don't know."
"He doesn't know what kind of animal he is," I said.
The kids persisted. "Are you a wolf?"
"I don't know," Nordy shrugged.
"Are you a bear?"
Later we split up into groups and played fun games. One group had a parachute, another got to shoot pucks into the goal against Nordy as the Goalie. Finally we wrapped up with a fun game of ships across the ocean. Nordy was "It" of course.
I had the idea that Nordy should stand by the door and kids could give him a high five on the way out. Here's what really happened: Kids piled up for hugs instead. They all fell over in a hockey heap. Oh well, the kids liked it.
On the way home I asked some of the kids what was their favorite part. One boy replied, "The parachute . . . and . . . The Bear!" Short pause, "No he was a beaver. Nobody asked him if he was a beaver. He didn't have a tail, and beavers don't have tails, so he must be a beaver."
"Actually beavers do have tails," I said. (I'm a member of the zoo: see http://scottandkari.blogspot.com/)
"No, he is a beaver," another child said, "and a bear, and a wolf. He's all the animals"
We didn't really settle on anything, but the last theory is pretty compelling. No matter what kind of animal our mascot friend may be I think 18 new DinoMights will definitely remember their first hockey experience for a long time.