Mackinley Whalen, 11, recently got to watch almost a whole period of NHL hockey with her favourite player, Ryan Kesler, because of a letter she sent wishing him a speedy recovery from his injury. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Mackinley Whalen, 11, recently got to watch almost a whole period of NHL hockey with her favourite player, Ryan Kesler, because of a letter she sent wishing him a speedy recovery from his injury. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Young Campbell River hockey fan gets to hang with her hockey hero

Mackinkley Whalen, 11, wrote a ‘get well soon’ card to Ryan Kesler and got a heck of a surprise

One young Campbell River hockey player – and fan – recently had a very, very good day down in Anaheim.

Mackinley Whalen, 11, picked up on Ryan Kesler when he was a Vancouver Canuck. She wasn’t really a fan of the team – her parents are both Montreal Canadiens fans, after all – but she certainly did like “that number 17 guy,” she says, and when he was traded to Anaheim, her fandom followed.

“If he was traded to Toronto, I’d probably be a Leafs fan,” she says.

“No you wouldn’t,” interrupts her mom April, half-jokingly.

So when Kesler went down with injury earlier this season, she decided to write him a letter wishing him a speedy recovery and letting him know they were going to be down that way with tickets to a pair of games.

“At first I was sad that you will not be playing,” the letter reads, “but I just want you to get better soon. If you are around the arena for those games and feel like some popcorn I’m willing to share mine with you.”

The letter included her seat number for each game.

Apparently, April had added her cell number to the letter before it was sent, because she got a text message from Kesler letting them know he planned on joining them during the Ducks/Predators game Nov. 3. She didn’t tell Mackinley, though, because she thought it would be better as a surprise.

“It was so awesome,” Mackinley says. “He came down and I thought, ‘is this a fake person trying to tease me or a joke or something?’ but then he sat with me and had popcorn…and watched almost the full period with me.”

“He was so down to Earth and engaging,” April says. “He was genuinely interested in everything she had to say. Even my husband said, ‘I wanted to hate the guy, but I couldn’t. He was so nice.’”

The Whalen’s go down to the U.S. fairly frequently to watch hockey, because it’s actually significantly less expensive than going over for a game in Vancouver.

“We can fly down to Anaheim or Florida for a game and including the flights and hotels it’s still cheaper than going to a Canucks home game,” April says. “You can get into a game down there for like $16.”

And while they’re down there watching hockey, they can see some other things, as well.

“My mom made me go to Disneyland,” Mackinley says. “But I just wanted to watch hockey.”

Mckinley is quite the athlete herself. She plays for two local hockey teams – one mixed and one girls’ team – as well as being as burgeoning golfer. She is currently enrolled in a golf academy in Parksville with hopes to maybe one day become a professional golfer.

“But I’d like to play hockey professionally, too,” she says. “I like golf, but I love hockey. It’s my passion.”

Just Posted

Community residents, businesses, and youth are all encouraged to complete economic development surveys. (The News files)
City of Maple Ridge asks for community input on economic development

Three surveys available online will help shape strategy for years to come

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Schools in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows exposed to COVID-19

Davie Jones and Hammond elementary schools have confirmed cases

B.C. conservation officer Sgt. Todd Hunter said a black bear is believed to have killed local livestock. (THE NEWS/files)
Black bear believed to have killed miniature donkey in Maple Ridge

Trap set for predator that has been killing livestock near Webster’s Corners

Vanessa Barrett is competing to be the face of fitness for a health and bodybuilding magazine. (Vanessa Barrett/Special to the Maple Ridge News)
Ridge fitness champ aims to become face of magazine

Vanessa Barrett wants to add ‘Ms Fitness’ to her titles of entrepreneur and mom

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read