The Alaska Aces are used to enthusiastic crowds. On Thursday, they had one at unusual time — 2:30 p.m.
The young fans at Klatt Elementary School were ready to hear what defenseman Mark Andre Levesque and Matt Geurts had to say. An assembly focused on good life lessons, as the players encouraged the eager audience to exercise, eat right, keep at their schoolwork even if it’s difficult and, of course, to have fun.
The day gave Geurts a familiar feeling.
“I remember when I was a kid, I thought the Aces were the coolest guys ever. I looked up to them and I went to every game I could,” said the Chugiak native. “So it’s really cool to be on the other side of that and be able to give back to the kids who look up to the Aces the same way I used to.”
Glacier Blue is not Geurts’ first hockey stop, but he relishes being home now. Levesque’s road was less direct; he grew up in Montreal.
“So my first language is French, actually. English is my second language,” Levesque said.
And that fit well with the school they were visiting. Klatt features over 160 students whose first spoken language is something other than English and 29 different languages are spoken at the school.
“I started speaking English when I was 17 years old probably, so it’s been 9 years now. Didn’t have a choice, where I played hockey it was only English,” said Levesque.
The team makes getting out in the community and visiting schools a priority. Klatt principal David Christal said the visits help schools promote good attendance.
“It goes right along with our goals to increase our attendance and making sure our kids are at school, on time every day,” he said.
It was no problem Thursday — the kids weren’t missing this.