How a 13-year-old cancer survivor inspired his idol, Alex Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin and 13-year-old cancer survivor Alex Luey shared an incredible experience at Hockey Fights Cancer night in Toronto. (Photo by Jeff Chevrier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Seated side-by-side in the winning locker room, the two stars from Saturday’s marquee matchup between the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs – each an Alex – opened it up to questions from the media.

The larger one on the left, Ovechkin, supplied the goals, scoring a hat trick in the 4-2 victory and in the process taking over sole possession of 21st on the NHL’s all-time goals list. While on the right sat 13-year-old Alex Luey, who served as an incredible inspiration for his idol next to him.

The relationship is only brand new, but this, and many other moments shared between the two Alexs were weeks in the making. Last month, upon learning of Luey’s story — the 13-year-old overcoming cancer and remaining committed to the sport with the help of a prosthetic after having a portion of his right leg amputated — the Capitals captain invited the Niagara Falls Flyer to Saturday’s Hockey Fights Cancer night at Air Canada Centre.

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Meeting for the first time hours before the game, Ovechkin promised that if he scored, that it would be for his special guest. But the expectation either Alex had at the start of the night was surely exceeded by its end.

Ovechkin held his end, of course, with his three goals. But to a man in the Capitals’ room, they will tell you that Luey was just as important as the visitors extended their win streak to three games.

His influence began just before the Capitals hit the ice when he took the assignment of announcing the starters – and made it his own.

That’s “starting tendy” Braden Holtby, to you.

For offering what smelling salts couldn’t on the second half of a back-to-back on the road, Luey received Player of the Game honours following the win, accompanied by a standing ovation.

Shortly after, Ovechkin brought Luey out of the dressing room to join him for his interview with Hockey Night in Canada. There, he draped one of the rarest keepsakes in the sport – the HNIC towel – over his shoulders while they shared the interview.

Then back inside the room, and after finishing up with the rest of the reporters, Ovechkin essentially emptied out his hockey bag for one of his biggest and most deserving fans.

He signed his stick, his gloves, his helmet, and handed over a duffle presumably filled with more goodies.

The two Alexs took pictures together, then invited the parents in for some more.

Enough so that they won’t soon forget the incredible night they shared.

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