Three members of the Boston Bruins took some time away from the ice to join students from Perkins School for the Blind for a game of goal ball on Monday afternoon.
NHL players Zdeno Chara, Ryan Donato and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson donned the black and gold jerseys with the famous spoked “B,” while students came dressed in their blue jerseys with “Perkins” across the front.
The Bruins were greeted by the school’s cheerleading team, which got the crowd in the Perkins gym warmed up with a few numbers. Then it was time to strap on the goggles and play some goal ball.
All the players, both visually impaired and not, wore goggles that completely blocked out their vision. The big blue rubber ball has a bell inside that gives them an idea where it is and where it is going.
“It’s much harder than you think,” said Chara, who at 6-foot-7, towered over everybody. “You know, it takes a little bit of time to get used to it.”
Players could position themselves with the help of tape stuck to the floor. When one side throws the ball, the three defenders on the opposite team sprawl on the court to try to block it. If the ball is stopped, the player who controls it gets to roll the ball back at the opposite goal.
“You have to listen for the ball and once you have it there are specific rules to shoot the ball,” Chara said. “I was able to make a big save on a penalty. I know I missed a few off the court but I know I made a few, so that was nice.”
One of the students playing against Chara, and along side Donato and Forsbacka Karlsson, was Perkins senior Izzy Primeau. She said this is not the first time she has competed with and against other teams.
“We played against a team from NESN, and even the BC sailing team, but never a professional team,” Primeau said.
Perkins also competes against other schools for the blind.
“In February, the season starts up, but it is really short — a month and half,” she said. “It flies by so fast.”
Zach Gousie, who is in grade 12+ at Perkins, played along side Chara. He was the designated defender for one of of the penalty shots against his team. Gousie flung his body on the ground, but the ball narrowly escaped him.
“I almost had it!” he said after the shot.
After the game, he lamented that he had nearly stopped the shot,”If I was half an inch over I could have stopped it.”
Despite the near miss, Gousie had a thrilling time.
“It was amazing,” he said.
The Bruins made the appearance as part of the team’s community outreach. Chara said he enjoys working with children.
“Personally, I have three children and I know what it’s like, you want to see them smile,” Chara said. “That is always making my day much brighter, and hopefully cheer these children up. Hopefully, it was a good experience on both sides.”
See more photos from the Bruins’ players visit to Perkins School for the Blind below: