Weston Hermann found himself alone on front of the goal, and Steven Stamkos did what he’s been doing lately when he spots a teammate in front of the net: he passed the puck.
And Hermann shot and scored.
“It was unbelievable,” Hermann, 11, said. “It was really fun. Hoping to play with him when I get older. Stamkos, he has a seven-year contract. If he signs another contract I can still play with him.”
Hermann, a self-described “big Lightning fan,” was a guest of the team during Saturday’s morning skate as part of the Lightning’s Hockey Fights Cancer program. He dressed and joined the players, leading the Lightning at center ice during the stretch.
“I was really nervous,” Hermann said. “(Coach Jon Cooper) just told me to go in the circle, lead the stretch. I was like, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ I don’t know what stretches they do.”
The players tapped the ice with their sticks to welcome their new teammate. Hermann, who plays left wing for a youth team in Ellenton, then took turns with Stamkos and Yanni Gourde during two-on-none drills against goalie Peter Budaj. He later worked on his faceoff technique with Brayden Point.
Hermann scored off a feed from Gourde, slipping the puck between Budaj’s pads, then slammed one home after being setup by Stamkos. He said afterwards that he had asked Budaj not to take it easy on him. That might have been the case on Hermann’s first goal, but Stamkos teed it up perfectly for Hermann on the second.
“He’s actually really good. He’s a great player,” Gourde said. “The one time he was going with Stammer, they looked pretty good together.”
Hermann, who lives in Parrish, is headed to Philadelphia in early November for a second surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his brain. He recently completed 16 rounds of chemotherapy.
Hermann met Cooper in September at Cooper’s annual Coop’s catch for Kids charity fishing outing, which raised $150,000 for pediatric cancer.
Hermann brought his practice jersey Saturday, because he wanted to fit in with the Lightning players, who wore their practice jerseys. The team, though, provided him with his own Lightning game jersey and gave him a spot in the dressing room next to Andrej Sustr.
His mom, Marcie, said Saturday’s workout with the Lightning, was a welcomed diversion for Weston.
“Everything is on the ice and you leave everything behind, so when you’re out there, you don’t think about how you have to have surgery next week, because you’re out on the ice doing what you love to do best,” she said. “What hockey has meant to him this whole time, he could play and then go be sick in the parking lot, it didn’t matter, because you’re playing. So, it just means being distracted, to just do what you love to do. When you’re out there you don’t think about anything else. He would love to do this someday. It’s a dream.”
Gourde said he enjoyed sharing the shooting drill with Hermann.
“It’s really great to have this kid around and skating with us,” Gourde said. “Obviously, he’s going through a rough time. It’s really fun to be able to have him out there with us and feed off his courage, cause he’s a great kid. He’s got a lot of courage. I respect that a lot.”