Lodnia offers tickets in Bryant’s memory
When basketball legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash along with his daughter, it hit close to home for Niagara IceDogs forward Ivan Lodnia.
The IceDogs captain was born in Los Angeles and continues to live in nearby Orange County (home of Disneyland) where he followed Bryant’s career from up close.
In an effort to honour Bryant and daughter Gianna, as well as the other victims in the tragic accident Jan. 26, Lodnia decided he wanted to continue to grow the game of hockey in the Niagara Region, while growing relationships between dads and their daughters by offering a pair of free tickets to IceDogs home games.
“Kobe was a huge idol of mine living in California so I thought it was pretty fitting to do it,” Lodnia said.
The tragedy hit home in more ways than one for Lodnia, who lives with his family about 15-20 minutes from Bryant.
“For sure, he was the biggest athlete in LA at the time and for a long time and probably forever now,” Lodnia said. “Obviously, the OHL is not like the NBA but I wanted to do the best I can to try and give some respect to him.”
Lodnia, who always made sure to catch the Lakers on TV and also went to see him play live on a few occasions, didn’t believe the news when he first heard it.
“It caught me off guard. I thought it was fake,” he said. “I thought it was a hoax until more serious accounts and CNN started tweeting it.
“I still couldn’t believe it. It took a couple of days before I finally realized it was true.”
Lodnia says basketball rules in Los Angeles.
“I think it’s the highest on the list. You have Lebron (James) and Anthony Davis. The Lakers are always California’s team. It’s always going to be like that.”
Lodnia understands why Bryan took to the air considering the horrific traffic conditions in Los Angeles.
“He took the helicopter to be with his family,” Lodnia said. “It takes a hour-and-a-half each way. When he first came he could drive because the traffic wasn’t as bad.”
Fans can enter a draw through the IceDogs Facebook page.
“Every day before game day we post on Facebook,” said Jordyn Moussa, the IceDogs director of social media and sales co-ordinator.
A winner will be randomly selected using a name generator and will be contacted privately before 8:30 p.m. the night before each game.
Tickets will be left under the winner’s name at the box office for pick up. The box office opens two hours prior to puck drop.
Lodnia, who is out with a lower body injury, said he is feeling better and is waiting to get clearance to play from the doctor.
The IceDogs are home to Barrie Thursday and Hamilton Friday.
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