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Teams rally to make 'Howard's Hope' a reality

Edward Howard (center) of Alexandria was treated to a special hockey game that featured his two granddaughters, Lindsey and Emily Howard of Burnsville (on each side of him).

A special exhibition hockey game was held in Alexandria recently.

It wasn't a game that showcased fierce competition or an unbridled determination to win. Instead, the game showcased compassion, caring and teamwork to make a dream come true.

The game featured the U8 girls' hockey team of Burnsville facing off against the U8 girls' team from Alexandria. It was held Saturday, October 23 at the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria.

Two Burnsville players - 9-year-old Lindsey Howard and her 7-year-old sister Emily Howard - skated their best, hoping to impress one particular Alexandria fan during their visit.

That fan was the reason the game was being played in the first place.

Howard's Hope

Edward Howard of Alexandria suffers from late stage pancreatic cancer and is currently in hospice care. His dying wish was to see his two granddaughters play hockey.

He knew that was unlikely, since they live in Burnsville and traveling in his condition is too difficult.

Knowing his dad's time was limited, Edward's son, Mike Howard, decided to try to bring his daughters' Burnsville team to Alexandria.

Some phone calls were made - one to Burnsville hockey coach Matt Masura and another to Alexandria coach Derek Trosvig - and things started to fall into place.

Ice time was purchased at the Alexandria rink, and the coaches started bringing together players.

The players and their families rallied to make this dream come true for the Howard family.

Edward Howard was informed his wish was going to come true - he was going to watch his granddaughters play hockey.

It wasn't until he arrived at the "Howard's Hope Exhibition Game" that he found out that the entire event was in his honor.

The Burnsville girls hit the ice with bright pink jerseys made just for the game that read "Howard's Hope."

Besides Lindsey and Emily's parents - Mike and Rebecca [Finke] (originally from Alexandria) Howard - several other members of the Howards' extended family also made it to the game.

"This was the coolest thing that could have happened for my dad," Mike Howard noted. "And in my heart, I just want to thank all the parents from Alexandria and all the parents from Burnsville who made this happen. Without them it would not have come together. Alexandria - you're awesome!"

The girls got some special surprises as well. The Alexandria girls were given T-shirts to commemorate the event, and both teams were treated to a pizza and swimming party at a local hotel after the game.

They also received an invitation to scrimmage between periods at the Alexandria Blizzard Hockey game that evening.

But the best part of the day for all involved was knowing that they made a wish come true for one special fan.

Editor's note: Information for this article was obtained from an article written by Jodi Berning of Alexandria for the Alexandria Area Hockey Association website,

Tara Bitzan

Tara Bitzan is editor of the Echo Press. She joined the company in 1991 as a news reporter. A lifelong resident of Douglas County, Tara graduated from Brandon High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications and English with a minor in Scandinavian Studies from Moorhead State University. She and her husband, Dennis, and their children live near Alexandria.

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