Fifth graders bring energy on Field Trip Day as Heartlanders skate past Wings

Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 6:57 PM CST
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CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - Fifth graders from 22 Iowa City area elementary schools brought the energy as the Iowa Heartlanders hosted the Kalamazoo Wings in an afternoon game on Wednesday. It was a part of the ECHL team’s first-ever Field Trip Day.

“It was on brand with what a morning hockey game is when you have a ton of kids in the house,” Director of Communications, Broadcaster for the Iowa Heartlanders David Fine said.

Lemme Elementary fifth grader Alice Degner said this was her favorite field trip yet.

“It’s definitely my favorite out of all of them,” she said. “I think it’s so interesting and seeing them slam into the glass and stuff.”

Like Degner, Kirkwood Elementary librarian Lisa Zortman, is a Heartlanders season ticket holder. When she heard about the field trip, she knew she wanted to be a part of it.

“It’s just a really great experience. I was not a hockey fan before until the Heartlanders came to town. Then, once I was here, I was like I’m sold,” Zortman said.

It also served as a way to promote exercise and teach students the game of hockey.

“All of the P.E. teachers teach a hockey unit I believe, so having the kids get to play hockey at their schools and come see what ice hockey is like,” she added.

The players said they fed off the energy in the arena.

“Oh yeah, you could tell, the energy was up on the bench,” Heartlanders forward Logan Nelson said. “The boys were loving it. It was awesome.”

“It was nice to see a lot of people and they were bringing the energy. It looked like they had a lot of fun too so, I’m glad they were able to all make it,” Tyler Busch added.

Even for the pros, many of them had to make adjustments to their pre-game routine.

“I told them to get their rest, nutrition and eat a big meal last night. Get up, get going a little bit earlier today and have a light breakfast. Be ready to go when puck drop happens at 10:30,” Heartlanders head coach and general manager Derek Damon said.

For guys like Busch, who scored his first professional hat trick in the Heartlanders 5-1 victory, he hopes afternoon games return soon.

“Hopefully we get a couple more of those.,” he said.

The Heartlanders will close out their series against Wings with games on Friday and Saturday.