Nicole and Liam Bateman are heading to Vancouver on Friday.

Local gets chance to skate with Canucks

Nicole Bateman is quite possibly one of the luckiest girls in Smithers right now.

Nicole Bateman is quite possibly one of the luckiest girls in Smithers right now.

The six-year-old is getting the opportunity to fly to Vancouver to skate with players from the Canucks this weekend.

“It’s awesome,” she said excitedly.

Colin Bateman, Nicole’s dad, entered her name into a draw a few weeks ago for the Canucks’ annual First Strides Initiation Program.

“We saw an ad on their webpage just saying that they had this opportunity for initiation kids to come down and skate with the Canucks,” said Bateman. “We put Nicole’s name in, but we didn’t expect anything of it.”

This was the first time they’ve entered contests like this; when they didn’t hear anything from the organization after the draw a few weeks ago, they assumed she wasn’t selected.

“We thought it wasn’t going to happen and then I got an email last night saying she’s heading down there,” said Bateman.

Nicole is one of 80 kids across the province who have been invited to skate with the team.

According to the Canucks’ website, as part of the program, local minor hockey association coaches will work side by side with qualified BC Hockey course conductors to teach young players the first strides in becoming accomplished athletes.

Nicole, along with her parents and her older brother Liam, are heading down this Friday for the two-day camp.

“She’ll be on the ice and the Canucks will be on the ice with them, and then the following day there’s a coaching session with Willie Desjardins,” said Bateman. “They’re going to be showing them some skating drills, it’s a proper coaching session.”

The young forward, who plays with the Roi’s team, said she’s excited to hit the ice and skate with Smithers’ Dan Hamhuis.

For Nicole and Liam, it’ll also be a weekend of firsts — this is the kids’ first visit to Vancouver, first time flying on a plane, and they’ll also get to see their first NHL game when the Canucks take on the New York Rangers on Saturday night.

“We’ve been to a Steelheads game, but not the Vancouver Canucks,” said Nicole.

And though she’s never been on a plane, she’s already getting some quality advice on making it a pleasant first experience.

“Always chew bubble gum when you land,” she said.

As for Liam, he has his own agenda when he gets to Rogers Arena.

“I want to see the Sedin brothers side by side to see if I can tell them apart,” he laughed.