An 11-year-old Shuswap boy beat his NHL hero at rock, paper, scissors and has a video, and hockey stick, to prove it.
Last Christmas, among the gifts awaiting Payton Koch under the Christmas tree was a ticket to see the Minnesota Wild play the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 19 at Rogers Arena. While Payton is a hockey fan, he is especially wild about the Wild – something he gets from his dad Rick, who hails from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Payton’s favourite player – #22, Wild winger Kevin Fiala.
As Rick explains, the day before the game, Payton came up with an idea to get Fiala’s attention during the pre-game warm-up. With a poster-sized fluoresent green sheet of paper he created a sign saying, Fiala Rock Paper Scissors For a Stick?, complete with Minnesota Wild stickers in each corner.
Dressed in a Wild jersey and ball cap, Payton put his poster up against the glass near the Minnesota bench and then waited for his team to take the ice.
“A moment later, the lights got bright and the Minnesota Wild hit the ice,” said Rick, adding when fellow Wild fans near Payton saw Fiala, some began yelling to get #22’s attention.
After picking up some pucks and waiting for additional warm-up drills, Fiala caught sight of Payton and his sign. Rick said Fiala smiled at Payton while skating by. At that point another Wild fan behind Payton said, “You got this kid: it’s yours.” After a few laps, Fiala returned to Payton and took him up on the rock, paper, scissors challenge.
“Payton then played the game with Fiala, losing a few before beating him in the end with three straight papers to beat Fiala’s rock,” said Rick. “Payton was pumped and people around cheered for him when he won.”
Fiala then skated to the Wild bench, grabbed one of his sticks and paid up, giving it to Payton.
“Payton was overjoyed and grateful to have gotten a stick and to interact with his favourite player on his favourite team,” said Rick. “After, he was smiling from ear to ear, so happy, just like a kid in a candy store.
“My wife and I couldn’t believe this really happened but were so happy for Payton and the experience.”
Afterwards, the Koch family received another surprise when they learned the exchange between Payton and Fiala had been caught on camera. The clip wound up being shown on NHL.com, Fox Sports North, Sports Net, YouTube and more.
“It was even mentioned at the Chase Heat Game Friday night,” said Rick. “The next day at school the teacher had seen it and showed the whole class.
“Payton really thinks the video is awesome and is very happy about it.”
Payton was also pleased to see his favourite team beat the Canucks 4-3.
“He was glad the Wild pulled out the win in the shootout,” said Rick. “It was an incredible experience and a moment that will last a lifetime.”