A local student and a hockey player play a youth game at the Penguins rink

LIBERTY, Ohio (WKBN) — A Liberty student who lives with type 1 diabetes hasn’t let much get in the way of his hockey success — and he had the experience of a lifetime Friday night to prove it.

It’s a sport Liam McKernan has loved since a young age. He put on his skates for the first time at age 4 to play ice hockey.

On Friday, he and his Pittsburgh Aviators team were invited by the Pittsburgh Penguins to play a youth hockey game against the Allegheny Badgers — on the same home ice the Penguins play.

“I thought it was really cool how we got through the tunnel and up onto the ice. It was really cool,” said Liam McKernan.

Liam’s father, Chris McKernan, said watching his son walk on the ice of the team that won the Stanley Cup five times was surreal.

“It was a really cool opportunity. It was exciting to see the kids come out of the tunnel on the ice and play on the rink where we’re going to watch them play,” said Chris McKernan.

Liam does all of this while managing his diabetes.

“I have to eat the right foods, have the right energy levels,” Liam McKernan said.

His father said Liam had done a great job of not letting his diabetes stop him from playing hockey and just being a kid.

“For him, he just – he’s still a kid. He’s great at trying to manage everything he does, he’s aware of his blood sugar and everything in it. He just goes and does his thing,” Chris McKernan said.

Liam even ended up scoring a shorthanded goal in Friday’s game, cementing the team’s 3-1 victory over the Badgers.

Catherine J. Martinez