NHL player Brett Connolly wasn’t about to give up. He wanted to give a souvenir puck to an adorable little girl and it took him a few tries.
Keelan Moxley, a 6-year-old fan of Connolly’s Washington Capitals, was at an April 15 playoff game where the team played the Columbus Blue Jackets. Connolly noticed her during warmups an gave it everything he had to send her home with a gift.
He started by tossing a puck over the glass above Keelan, but a man behind the little girl caught it and passed the puck to a little boy standing to her right. So, Connolly tried again … but the same thing happened, with the man handing the puck to a boy standing to her left. Before his third attempt, he pounded the glass in front of Keelan. And finally — the man who caught the puck handed it to her.
The moment was caught on video, and it’s clear by Keelan’s smile at the end that Connolly’s persistence meant a lot to her:
When ABC News interviewed the girl, she told them how she honestly felt in the moment: “I felt happy for the boys because the boys were happy because they got the puck. But, I didn’t really feel happy for myself.”
And when she finally did get a puck? “I felt so happy. I felt amazing, I felt awesome,” Keelan said.
In case you were wondering, Keelan’s mom chimed in on Twitter to set the record straight and explain that the man catching the pucks was not related to the girl in any way.
Hi guys! This is my daughter from last nights game! Just want to clarify, the “Dad” catching the pucks was not her father, & she is an only child. Need to say that since her dad was there but about 7 rows back as to not take up space for other kids & he’s an amazing father!
— Lauren Moxley (@moxser_) April 16, 2018
Apparently, her dad was a few rows back, as he didn’t want to block the glass for other kids trying to watch the warm-ups before the game.
According to another Twitter user, it’s pretty common for fans who don’t have reserved seats on the front row to get to stand near the rink during warm-ups, which explains why Keelan was standing there in the first place.
She was down there watching warm-ups, and her dad was a few rows up so he wouldn't block other people who wanted to watch. Every arena I've been in (including the Caps' arena) allows fans to watch warm-ups from the lower level, regardless of where your seats are.
— Dani Quarantina (@VeggieTart) April 19, 2018
The moment, which has since gone viral, stirred a lot of emotions for a lot of people. Some online began voicing their opinions about the previous pucks being handed to boys despite Connolly meaning for them to go to the girl.
At least one woman on Twitter called it an example of unconscious bias:
I hope being called a villain by half the internet helps that dude examine some of his unconscious biases
— 1000000 Tears for Jumbo (@fourforjumbo) April 17, 2018
Others applauded the little girl for her patience:
Nevertheless she persisted.
— Charles Laforet (@chlaforet) April 19, 2018
And some were impressed by Connolly’s actions:
Brett Connelly rocks 😙thanks for this little girl….you know she will be your biggest fan EVER. .
— Tanya (@ladywithaglass) April 20, 2018
According to ABC News, Keelan got front-row seats for the next home game, courtesy of the Capitals’ owner. She definitely deserved them!