A native of Sylvan Lake received an early Christmas present when he was presented a pair of size 15 skates, enabling him to skate for the first time in years.
Steven Dale, a 26-year-old Canadian Armed Forces combat engineer, was surprised with the skates prior to public skating at the Sylvan Lake Multiplex on Dec. 21, when he took to the ice for the first time in nearly 10 years.
He described his first outing back as “outstanding.”
“It’s been a long time,” he said.
Dale’s journey back onto the ice was a long one, and began during the town’s Kraft Hockeyville celebrations last year. At that time, family friend Alanna Dextrase approached the NHL to request help finding skates for Dale.
“His feet are so big that you just don’t get normal skates for a guy that size at the store and you have to get them customized,” said Dextrase. Doing so, she added, could cost upwards of $2,500.
But NHL linesman Mike Cvik ensured it didn’t come to that, and donated a pair of his own used skates that he knew would fit Dale.
Dextrase said Cvik was more than happy to help when he heard Dale’s story.
“Mike was surprised of the size, because not many people have feet that size,” said Dextrase. “He’s a very nice man.”
Cvik said he knows all too well how difficult it is to find such large skates, and didn’t think twice about sending Dale a pair of his own.
“It’s nice to be able to help someone out like this,” he said. “I understand how expensive it is for custom-made skates. They’re very expensive to have.”
After lacing up his new skates for the first time, Dale stepped onto the ice confidently, beaming with passion as he glided around accompanied by wife Nadine.
He instantly commented on the skates’ comfort, and noted skating is like riding a bike: once you learn how to do it, you never forget.
Having grown up in Sylvan Lake, Dale now lives in Edmonton. Owning a pair of comfortably-fitting skates, he feels, will allow him to enjoy quality time on the ice with his family, and take part in other activities previously unavailable to him.
“At work, we have a (hockey) team, and now I can play with them, finally,” he said. “I never could before.”