Mackinley Whalen, 11, recently got to watch almost a whole period of NHL hockey with her favourite player, Ryan Kesler, because of a letter she sent wishing him a speedy recovery from his injury. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Young Island hockey fan gets to hang with her hockey hero

Mackinkley Whalen, 11, wrote a ‘get well soon’ card to Ryan Kesler and got a heck of a surprise

One young Campbell River hockey player – and fan – recently had a very, very good day down in Anaheim.

Mackinley Whalen, 11, picked up on Ryan Kesler when he was a Vancouver Canuck. She wasn’t really a fan of the team – her parents are both Montreal Canadiens fans, after all – but she certainly did like “that number 17 guy,” she says, and when he was traded to Anaheim, her fandom followed.

“If he was traded to Toronto, I’d probably be a Leafs fan,” she says.

“No you wouldn’t,” interrupts her mom April, half-jokingly.

So when Kesler went down with injury earlier this season, she decided to write him a letter wishing him a speedy recovery and letting him know they were going to be down that way with tickets to a pair of games.

“At first I was sad that you will not be playing,” the letter reads, “but I just want you to get better soon. If you are around the arena for those games and feel like some popcorn I’m willing to share mine with you.”

The letter included her seat number for each game.

Apparently, April had added her cell number to the letter before it was sent, because she got a text message from Kesler letting them know he planned on joining them during the Ducks/Predators game Nov. 3. She didn’t tell Mackinley, though, because she thought it would be better as a surprise.

“It was so awesome,” Mackinley says. “He came down and I thought, ‘is this a fake person trying to tease me or a joke or something?’ but then he sat with me and had popcorn…and watched almost the full period with me.”

“He was so down to Earth and engaging,” April says. “He was genuinely interested in everything she had to say. Even my husband said, ‘I wanted to hate the guy, but I couldn’t. He was so nice.’”

The Whalens go down to the U.S. fairly frequently to watch hockey, because it’s actually significantly less expensive than going over for a game in Vancouver.

“We can fly down to Anaheim or Florida for a game and including the flights and hotels it’s still cheaper than going to a Canucks home game,” April says. “You can get into a game down there for like $16.”

And while they’re down there watching hockey, they can see some other things, as well.

“My mom made me go to Disneyland,” Mackinley says. “But I just wanted to watch hockey.”

Mckinley is quite the athlete herself. She plays for two local hockey teams – one mixed and one girls’ team – as well as being as burgeoning golfer. She is currently enrolled in a golf academy in Parksville with hopes to maybe one day become a professional golfer.

“But I’d like to play hockey professionally, too,” she says. “I like golf, but I love hockey. It’s my passion.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Residents want City of Courtenay to move proposed trail route

City says route closer to the shoreline poses number of problems

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

Comox Valley Regional District awarded poverty reduction strategy grant

The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), in partnership with the City of… Continue reading

CVRD office and meetings re-opening to public

The office has been closed to the public since March 17 to help limit the spread of the coronavirus

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Minivan driver’s speed a factor in fatal 2018 Malahat crash

Driver was travelling at 110 km/h in a construction zone

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Most Read