Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the San Jose Sharks Foundation, a dream came true on Tuesday for a very special Sharks fan. Prior to the Sharks' game against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, 17-year-old Sam Tageson got the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream and spend the entire day as a San Jose Sharks player.
Tageson was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome – a potentially life-threatening heart condition. Due to his condition, doctors told Sam he would never be able to lead an active lifestyle. Sam went against his doctor’s advice and to this day plays hockey and rides a skateboard. Though he does his best to live life to the fullest, Tageson will likely require a heart transplant down the road.
The day began with Tageson signing an official one-day contract with the team. He then suited up with Sharks players for a morning skate. He got to spend time getting to know the players, received some on-ice tips and even scored a few goals on goaltender, Alex Stalock.
A day as an NHL’er wouldn’t be complete without a proper media scrum following the morning skate. That’s exactly what Tageson experienced when he emerged from the dressing room following his time on the ice.
Prior to puck drop, Tageson became the first non-player in the history of the franchise to skate out through the iconic, giant Shark head for the pre-game warmup. He even got the opportunity to stand with the Sharks' starting lineup on the ice for the national anthem. Following the anthem, Tageson received an emotional standing ovation when he was introduced to the crowd on the jumbotron during the game.
“It’s a great experience,” said Patrick Marleau, “with smoke, lights, the fans cheering… it’s going to be great.”
Logan Couture added that the all the Sharks players spent time with Tageson, could feel how excited he was, and that it was an awesome moment for the team.
The San Jose Sharks were trailing the Florida Panthers by a goal in the third period, and after the jumbotron cut to Tageson inside the arena, the cheering crowd helped the Sharks score off the next faceoff. Though they wound up losing 3-2, the day was still a win for Tageson and Sharks players.
Tough game but amazing to see what hockey can do... Touching night to see Sam fly outta the shark...amazing experience at the tank— Brent Burns (@Burnzie88) March 19, 2014
Disappointing to lose tonight really wanted that one for Sam Tageson... what a great kid and makes you appreciate what you have! #rolemodel— jason demers (@jasondemers5) March 19, 2014
See more from the touching day below: