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'It was crazy': N.B. teen meets hockey idol Sidney Crosby thanks to Make-a-Wish

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They say you should never meet your heroes, but don't tell that to Luke Coughlan.

The 17-year-old travelled to Pittsburgh earlier this month to meet Sidney Crosby and practice with the Penguins as part of the Make-a-Wish program.

Make-A-Wish Canada fulfills once-in-a lifetime wishes for children with critical illnesses.

The Shediac, N.B., teen was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in August 2021 and went through five cycles of chemotherapy and radiation.

His wish was to meet the hockey legend from Cole Harbour, N.S.

“It was crazy. I still can't even process that I met him,” said Luke on Saturday.

The hard-core hockey fan chose meeting Crosby as his wish because number 87 has always been an inspiration.

“When I wasn't playing hockey for a year I used to watch him on TV just see him flash around shooting and scoring. It just really inspired me to start playing hockey,” Luke said.

Three other kids from across Canada also went on the trip.

All four of them signed a one-day contract with the team, got a limo ride to the practice facility and then hit the ice with the Penguins.

Luke’s mom Sandra called the experience surreal.

“His path to get here was difficult, but seeing him on the ice with Crosby was pretty amazing,” said Sandra.

“He's actually down to earth. He made everyone feel comfortable and he spent time with all the wish kids.”

Luke is now in remission, but it was a tough go for him.

“It was really a fight every day. It was a dog fight. I really had to fight to get better and it brought more courage, just to work hard and finish the treatments,” he said.

When they found out about the diagnosis, Sandra and her husband Jamie were shocked.

“I mean, as a parent, we do what we have to do,” said Sandra.

“Seeing him go through chemotherapy and radiation treatment, we knew he was getting better. Yes, it was tough seeing him in that state, however, we trusted the doctors, that they were making the right decisions with his treatment plan.”

The Grade 12 student from Louis J. Robichaud High School was back on the ice this year with his midget team in Shediac.

“I feel great, better than ever, really. Just happy to be back on my feet and doing the normal stuff that I used to do again, like play sports and go back to school regularly,” said Luke.

The Coughlan's say they are very grateful to the Make-a-Wish Foundation for the hockey dream come true.

“It was emotional seeing him in his element and interacting with all the players, not just Sidney Crosby. The whole team and the whole organization welcomed us and it was pretty amazing,” said Sandra.

Saturday was Luke’s last organized hockey game of the year, but he hopes to continue playing after graduation and to find a pickup game or recreational league to join.

“I still can’t believe it’s my last regular season ever,” he said. “I can probably find a beer league around here to play.”

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