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A Las Vegas Vacation to Remember

10/10/2013, 10:45am EDT
By Paul D. Bowker - Special to USAHockey.com

Talk about a fantasy camp moment.

Michael Tintle, a participant in the recent Kings Frozen Fury Fantasy Camp held in Las Vegas, had just scored a goal in the third round of a shootout to clinch a victory for his team. Scoring was exciting enough. What happened next was even more surprising.

“I scored the goal and I started to turn back toward the bench, and Luc [Robitaille, retired Los Angeles Kings star and Hockey Hall of Famer] is already off the bench skating top speed towards me just hands up, cheering me on with a big smile,” Tintle said. “He was so excited about winning the game.

“That’s something I’m never going to forget. It was just an incredible experience.”

The camp was just as incredible for Brian Berson, a resident of San Diego who scored a goal for the winning team in the second round of the shootout. A big supporter of Luc and Stacia Robitaille’s Echoes of Hope charity for foster youth, Berson participated in the camp as a 44th birthday present from his wife, Dawn.

“I told my wife afterwards,” Berson said, “it was the best birthday that I’ve ever had.”

The Kings partnered with the USA Hockey Adult Program to hold the camp at the MGM Grand Resort in Las Vegas on Sept. 27-28. Former members of the Kings included Robitaille, Daryl Evans, Larry Murphy, Sean O’Donnell, Rob Blake, Glen Murray, Hall of Fame announcer Bob Miller and Mark Hardy, who is now an assistant coach with the Kings.

The camp included skills sessions, tickets to two Kings NHL preseason games on consecutive nights, lunch and reception greets with the players, and a game played at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in which the professional players were split up to play alongside the campers.

“I got to play with Robitaille, and that’s been my dream my whole life,” said Tintle, who grew up in the Los Angeles area. “I’ve always been a big fan of his.”

The weekend event also included the Luc Robitaille Celebrity Poker Tournament and a skills camp hosted by Evans. The benefit poker tournament was one of the things that drew Berson’s interest.

“We’re huge supporters of Luc Robitaille’s charity, Echoes of Hope,” said Berson, a family therapist who also does consulting work for several nonprofit social service agencies. “I do a lot of work with foster care kids in the San Diego community. His charity really works with foster care kids that have been churned from the foster care system so they’ve aged out. And he helps them out.

“Without folks like Luc and Stacia, and what they do stepping forward to help, some of these kids would fall through the cracks.”

Tintle also participated in the poker tournament and shared a chuckle with Hardy at the tournament because just a day before Tintle had beaten Hardy off the puck for a goal.

Hardy, a player in the NHL for 15 years with the Kings, Minnesota North Stars and New York Rangers, recognized Tintle.

“Are you the guy that outmuscled me?” Hardy asked.

They laughed together.

“It was kind of a funny moment,” Tintle said.

Playing in such a camp with the former NHL stars certainly created anxiety. Tintle, who didn’t start playing hockey until he was 35 years old in the Anaheim Ice League, hadn’t played recently because he now lives in Nipomo, Calif., which doesn’t have an ice rink. Berson has played plenty of roller hockey, but not much hockey on the ice.

“It was a very scary experience for me initially,” Berson said. “I’m a roller hockey player. It was my third time on ice with a stick in my hands. It worked out really well. I shouldn’t have been as nervous as I was about it.”

During the Kings’ preseason game on the second night, Tintle found Robitaille, a scorer of 668 goals in the NHL, still talking about the shootout victory.

“This guy was still so excited, a day later, about a pickup game. It was so amazing,” Tintle said. “Luc is just the genuine thing. I’m so glad that he does this stuff. I think Luc really loves the LA fans. And it shows. That’s one of the reasons I really like the guy and I’ve been a fan of his ever since I saw him play back in ‘86 or ‘87. He just has always had that smile and just that great attitude about himself.”

Berson said he’ll always remember the weekend.

“To get to play with some of the people that you enjoyed watching before and be humbled by their skills,” he said. “To be able to see what they’re able to do is absolutely amazing.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Tag(s): Players & Parents