A photo opportunity with four players in the Canes locker room. This was one of three attractions during the fundraiser. Photo courtesy of Rachel Fearn.
Each year as a fundraiser for the Carolina Hurricanes Foundation, the franchise hosts “Skate with the Canes,” or SWTC. Hosted sometime between January and February, tickets cost $85 and all proceeds go towards the foundation. Many ask if the cost is worth it, but I can assure you the experience is priceless.
Starting when you enter the PNC arena, you are split into one of three groups based off which color correlates with your ticket. After entering and receiving wristbands, we were given a free beanie, scarf, and posters to take home. The night was already off to a great start.
Our group followed the rotation to skate on the ice first. We made our way down to the bottom floor in order to grab skates and set up. The staff did an amazing job being efficient and grabbing everyone’s skate size within seconds. We then laced up our skates and headed to the ice.
The ice was available to skaters for a few minutes before the players came out to the ice. Giving us a chance to get used to the ice, we were ready to meet the players. As they came out onto the ice, players spread out to different parts in order to not attract long lines. This was extremely well organized by the Canes, and we got the chance to meet all the players available.
My only complaint with this portion of the event was they rotated where the players were after a certain amount of time, so twice we waited in line just to not be able to meet that player. Also, since there were three groups, we could only skate with ⅓ of the players.
Overall, I really enjoyed skating with the players and fans as it was very free-flowing and we could truly see how players interact with their fans.
When our 45 minutes ended, we headed back off the ice to take our skates off and grab our belongings. We were then directed towards the locker rooms and the workout room.
The line was extremely long, but luckily the walls were decorated all the way around, so we could look at vintage photos and stanley cup team selfies as we waited.
Arriving in the locker room, we got to see all the boys’ equipment, along with where they get ready for their games. Sitting in the center four stalls were four new players ready to say hello. We walked through and eventually got our picture with them. We were told one picture per person, and were not allowed to get autographs. Luckily, the people ahead of us held up the line so we jumped on the opportunity and got some signatures from the players, including Svechnikov, one of the Canes most important players for the season.
We then made our way to the next part, the workout rooms. We got to see the players equipment, kitchen, their place to hang out, and where they play pre-game soccer. Next was a photo opportunity with four more players, including the Canes captain Jordan Staal and supposedly returning Justin Williams. This was the least-exciting part of the event, as it was extremely rushed and there was no chance for signatures, selfies, or to even talk to the players for more than a second.
The rush is understandable because the event was completely sold-out, and the staff needed to keep the event on an efficient time schedule.
After we finished with the locker room tour, we made our way up to “signatures.” Along the walk to the 104-108 stadium section, we were offered free ice-cream with an array of toppings. This was a nice feature, as the Canes “Twisted Waffle” ice cream station usually has a long line during games and is also relatively expensive. The chance to eat while we walked was a nice added feature.
Soon, we arrived to the signatures station, split into two lines in order to break down the wait times. Choosing the left line first, we got to meet three players and get signatures, as well as meet the Canes famous “live mascot,” Hamilton the pig.
Despite sitting there for two hours prior to meeting us, the players were nice and asked each fan how they were doing. My most memorable moment of the night was asking #23 Brock McGinn to sign a poster for my grandma, who is his biggest fan. He immediately wrote “To Linda, All the best!!” and signed his name and number at the bottom.
The players truly do not get appreciated for their kindness. Getting this 1-on-1 experience was definitely worth the wait lines and the cost of the event.
We then looped into the second line, where we got to meet the announcers for the game, as well as four more players, including Sebastian Aho and goalie Petr Mrazek. We got the opportunity to joke around with the players and announcers, a rare opportunity outside the event.
Overall, the experience of Skate with the Canes is a life-changing experience for Canes fans. Getting the opportunity to get 30+ pictures and signatures from each player is something priceless, so the $85 is not much compared to the memories made.
I truly recommend Canes fans to get the chance to indulge in this experience, as it is something you’ll never forget.