NEW GLASGOW - At first glance, little Ava Foote is a typical novice hockey player, happily skating over the ice with her stick and pink helmet alongside her teammates.
But small town hockey is no mean feat for seven-year-old Ava, who lost part of her right hand in a household accident on June 1, resulting in a spell at the IWK in Halifax and doctors rebuilding her thumb with a bone graft.
At one point, her family wondered if their hockey-playing daughter would ever make it onto the ice again.
“We’ve spent two weeks in the IWK undergoing three different surgeries and lots of needles and tests and stuff like that - but we’re back,” said Ava’s mother Angela.
After her accident, Ava’s father Jeremy spoke with Ava’s coach at the Subway Selects, who described as “instrumental,” in bringing his daughter back on the ice.
Her coach then contacted Hockey Canada and CCM about obtaining a specialized glove for Ava’s right hand that will allow her to hold her stick and keep playing for the Selects.
“She doesn't have it yet, but we just need to jury-rig one for now so she can get out there and keep playing,” said Jeremy.
When asked what she enjoyed most about hockey, Ava’s answer was simple: “skating.”
Her mother described her as a “super active girl,” who always remained positive and could yet mentor other people who may go through similar challenges.
“We just want to give it our all and support her,” said Angela.
And Ava is in distinguished company: NHL player Jim Kyte tallied 66 points and 1,342 penalty minutes playing for the Jets, Penguins, Flames, Senators and Sharks, all while having a degenerative hearing condition.
He was the first player to wear a hearing aid on ice underneath a specially designed helmet.
A number of other NHL greats have played despite disabilities or injuries.
In keeping with the spirit of hockey, Ava joined her teammates on the ice for a practice session, testing out their shooting and skating skills just minutes after speaking with The News.
While an avid hockey player, Ava is also a fan who supports the Montreal Canadiens.