AP NEWS

sound tigers Ridgefield boy gets his wish, joins Sound Tigers

February 20, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — Kyle Burroughs was greatly pleased to hear the newest addition to Bridgeport Sound Tigers practice was a fellow defenseman. He urged 12-year-old Kaden Symington not to take it easy on his new buddies Tuesday morning.

Kaden, from Ridgefield, was finishing getting dressed alongside Bridgeport captain Ben Holmstrom, putting on a new white Sound Tigers sweater with his name and number 19 on the back. Then it was out to the rink for his first twirl on Webster Bank Arena ice with the boys.

“It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him,” Kaden’s mom, Suzanne, said. “To see him as happy as he is, really into the game and feeling a part of the team, is unbelievable.”

The Make-A-Wish Foundation connected Kaden to the Sound Tigers. Bridgeport gave the East Ridge Middle School seventh grader a hockey contract to sign and a press conference in front of the team.

Kaden paused when asked what was going through his mind as he signed his contract.

“A lot like these guys,” coach Brent Thompson quipped, pointing to his players. “Nothing’s going through their minds, either.”

Kaden’s original wish, ziplining in Hawaii, sounded pretty cool, too. But Tuesday morning, he shot and passed with Holmstrom and a few others before practice, then sat on the bench while the Sound Tigers went through their drills.

“I liked skating around, shooting with the players, making plays,” he said.

“It was pretty cool. It was fun to hang out with them. They acted like I was part of the team.”

He was a part of the last drill of the day, slipping a puck into the net, winning the split-squad game for his side and making the other team skate.

“Hopefully he remembers that,” Holmstrom said. “Little things like that: He’s obviously been through a lot. Those are the kinds of things that you hope he remembers.”

Kaden has had five open-heart surgeries, four in the first four years of his life and another a little over a year ago, for hypoplastic left heart syndrome, his mother said.

“He had some issues within the past year, heart-related, lung-related,” Suzanne Symington said, “but now he’s healthy.”

This is the second straight year the Sound Tigers have partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation like this. Two youngsters visited last year, and like them, Kaden will come back on a game day. He’ll return on March 23.

“They have the wish experience, which is incredible in itself,” said Kim Smith, Make-A-Wish Connecticut director of corporate and community giving, “but being able to have an experience with the Sound Tigers, to let them share their story, it not only engages the community, it engages the team.”

A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales that night will go to Make-A-Wish, and Make-A-Wish families across the state will be there that night.

In just a couple of years, this has become a special event on the team calendar.

“We’re all 10, 11, 12 years old, looking up to whoever, and for me it was professional hockey players,” Holmstrom said. “For me it was cool to be able to show him what we do and have some fun with it.”

DAL COLLE BACK: The New York Islanders sent left winger Michael Dal Colle back to Bridgeport. Dal Colle has 28 points in 29 AHL games this season. They also recalled Thomas Hickey and Andrew Ladd from conditioning assignments after the veteran NHLers played two Sound Tigers games over the weekend.

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; @fornabaioctp; blog.ctnews.com/fornabaio