Local player meets hockey legend
During the hot summer months of school vacation while many kids were out swimming, Hunter Cordier went looking for ice.
The 14-year-old loves hockey, even after losing a tooth to the game, although it was just a baby tooth. Hunter’s nephew Crue, 2, calls him Uncle Hockey. This is Hunter’s 11th season playing for a Missoula team.
“I dream of hockey,” he said. “I never wanted to take a season off.”
The ice in Missoula – where he plays – is taken out to make room for the fair during a few months in the summer, which makes Hunter sad.
“I watch hockey on TV when I’m not playing it,” he said.
Not wanting him to spend too much time watching hockey and playing video hockey during the downtime, his mom helped him find some ice in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho at a summer camp where other hockey enthusiasts go to hone their skills.
“It was expensive to get in but we got him a scholarship,” Hunter’s mom, Colleen Cordier, said.
Hunter’s eyes got really big when his mom told him hockey legend Wayne Gretzky was sponsoring the camp with other hockey professionals. Hunter loves to watch replays of Gretzky’s games. He collects Gretzky memorabilia including an autographed Gretzky hockey card, a Gretzky miniature and Gretzky T-shirts.
“He is my idol,” Hunter said.
Hunter’s opinion didn’t change after meeting the legend.
“I may be a goalie but I learned a lot from him. He is crazy talented and knowledgeable. When he played, he wasn’t a brawler. He was there for the game. He is the biggest name in hockey. He is amazing.”
At the camp, Hunter was the only kid from Montana. He said most of the kids were from Canada with a few coming in from New York and California. Hunter said Gretzky sat down with the kids and told them hockey stories.
“He signed jerseys for us all with his number on them,” Hunter said of his growing memorabilia collection.
Hunter willingly stuck his skates into the ice and pulled another camper across the rink during a conditioning drill.
“They worked us so hard I thought my legs were about to fall off,” he said. “But I improved at the a camp.”
In a small town, it sometimes takes a bit of digging to find opportunities like the hockey camp, Colleen said. She is also a teacher and would like more opportunities in the area for all kids.
“It’s important to get kids focused on something,” she said calling Hunter’s focus on hockey more of an obsession.
Hunter’s obsession might lead him to the professional league. He said if he gets there he would like to help kids at a camp like the one he attended.