DETROIT – It's something they do all the time, but somehow, putting on their pads and lacing up their skates just felt different on Friday.
"I'm excited, the Tigers play here," said 14-year-old Anthony Manici.
You can feel the energy in the room. The Michigan Far Flyers have been waiting for this day for a long time. They were getting ready in a baseball clubhouse. They got to play a game on the ice at Comerica Park.
"It's cool," Manici said.
The Flyers are only one of three special needs hockey teams in the state of Michigan. The ice time Friday was a gift from one of their sponsors and the players know how lucky they are to get a chance to be a part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival.
"It's like an early Christmas present for these kids," said assistant coach Ward Peterson. "They're really excited and thrilled to be playing on an NHL ice arena. On top of that, they're playing at Comerica Park and they're just thrilled."
The Flyers team is made up of young and old, girls and boys. It gives the players a sense of team while building self-esteem. Most of the participants have been a part of the team for a decade or more.
"They like playing the game and getting together and going to these places," Gary Olbrys, a parent of one of the players, said. "It boosts morale."
You could say that again. One thing is for sure: This is an experience this team will never forget.
The team is always looking for more players. For more information go to www.michiganfarflyers.org.