SPRINGFIELD – Calling it a Christmas miracle might be a stretch. Luck didn’t bring Katrina King and her father, Rick, to the Civic Center parking garage in late December. No, for the Kings, some 15 years after first seeing a hockey game together, there’s few places father and daughter would rather be than at the Mass Mutual Center for a Springfield Thunderbirds game.
But timing is everything. And as the Kings departed the arena, rolling under the low-hanging, multi-colored steel beams criss-crossing the ceiling, they rolled past Thunderbirds defenseman Ed Wittchow.
Rick saw him first, riding in the car next to the Kings. He waved over, catching Wittchow’s attention.
“Hey,” Rick said, “One of your big fans is sitting in the car.”
Rick stopped, then opened the car door. And before he knew it, he said, Wittchow and his daughter, Katrina, were having a conversation. Five minutes passed, become 10, then 15, the affable Wittchow chatting her up like an old friend. They both love dogs, Katrina learned. She has two, 10-year-old Lady and seven-month-old Boomer, the younger named after the Thunderbirds mascot.
The Kings thought it was little more than a nice behind-the-scenes moment. Just a fan and one of her favorite players sharing a candid moment away from the ice.