Islanders’ Tavares offers support to bullied Winnipeg fan
Published Wednesday, December 31, 2014 5:26PM EST
A Winnipeg boy received a late Christmas gift Wednesday that would be the envy of any young hockey fan.
Jake Lotocki, 12, got to meet his hockey hero, New York Islanders’ John Tavares before the team’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.
The Islanders’ captain first got in touch with the boy last season after hearing Lotocki had been bullied by a group of Jets fans for wearing a Tavares jersey.
The incident occurred in March, when the Jets suffered an over-time loss to the Islanders in Winnipeg.
Lotocki attended the game with his mother, who says the boy was approached by a group of Jets fans after the game who called him “a loser” and told him to leave.
Lotocki ended up taking the jersey off and left the MTS Centre.
The boy’s mother approached the Winnipeg Free Press about the incident, and a connection was made with Tavares.
The hockey player sent Lotocki a signed jersey and a note thanking him for his continued support in spite of the abuse he had endured.
“At that age, you’re growing up and you’re experiencing a lot of things life,” Tavares told CTV Winnipeg. “Sometimes something like that can be really disappointing and can turn you off such a great game of hockey.”
On Wednesday, Tavares met with Lotocki at the team’s hotel before New York’s game in Winnipeg. The two spent some time one-on-one and Taveres gave the boy a bobble head doll.
Lotocki said the meeting helped him put the bullying incident behind him.
Not only will he and his mother be attending Jets games this season, but Lotocki says he intends to keep wearing his Tavares jersey.
With files from CTV Winnipeg