BC girl airlifted to hockey game by NHL players, fundraiser

The friendship between Vancouver Island girl Elsie Simard and Colorado Avalanche forward Alex Newhook is making waves on social media.

Newhook, who is currently in the Stanley Cup playoffs, played junior hockey for the Victoria Grizzlies.

It was in the capital of British Columbia that the duo first met.

“I saw her the first time she was there,” Newhook said. “I just came down and gave him a little punch.”

Elsie was born premature and spent much of her life in hospital. But while she was there, she could always count on a visit from Newhook.

According to Elsie’s family, the hockey rink would help her tie.

“Inside, there are no restrictions. She can be like anyone else,” said her mother, Christie Simard.

Unfortunately, Elsie and Newhook’s friendship changed in 2019, when Newhook’s junior hockey career ended and Elsie and her mother moved from Victoria to Battleford, Saskatchewan.

The pair reunited in March when Elsie’s family drove four hours to Edmonton to watch her first NHL game.

The Colorado Avalanche won that game and Newhook and Elsie had the chance to meet again. Soon after, word of their friendship took center stage.

“My phone exploded,” the girl’s mother said.


An online fundraiser was quickly set up, with the goal of sending Elsie to her first NHL playoff game.

The campaign was a success and Elsie flew to Denver last week, along with other Avalanche players.

“Erik Johnson helped with tickets and accommodations,” Simard said.

The team won both its games to advance to the second round of the playoffs, and the Simard family say they were treated like royalty.

But Elsie didn’t come to Denver empty-handed.

She brought the team handmade bars of soap since Newhook is her original “stinky boy”.

“We brought stinky soap for the hockey boys,” Simard said.

Elsie has had a positive impact from her roots in Victoria to Colorado.

“She makes everyone’s world a better place around her,” said Sheryl Williams with the Victoria Grizzlies. “She is a force.”

And Newhook agrees.

“She was always a light in my life,” he said.

Catherine J. Martinez