NHL Draft Fan Fest includes Zamboni simulator, activities for young players

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The NHL Draft will take place on Friday night at the United Center. But while the draft goes on inside the building, fans can join in the fun outside of the stadium at the NHL Fan Fest. There's a lot to do for both children and adult hockey fans.

They may only be 5- or 6-years-old, but the kids are the fest are the long-term future of hockey. They ran through drills with the immediate future of the sport - some of the prospects who are expected to be top draft picks. It's a great opportunity for potential future Blackhawks.

"Practice and also be around other kids that are so into it. The hockey community is awesome," said hockey parent Gabriella Galivan.

Part of the NHL fan experience is an interactive exhibit that's visiting every NHL city in celebration of the league's 100th anniversary. There's also a museum with equipment from hockey's early years.
"We show how gear has evolved. You see sticks from 1910 to modern day. You see how helmets have evolved, how jerseys have evolved," said NHL spokesperson Jasmine Ghafour.

It's a similar but scaled-down concept to the NFL's Draft Town, which Chicago hosted for a couple seasons.

One of the exhibits getting a lot of attention is the Zamboni simulator.

"There's just something about it. There's a magic to it. There's something that everybody wishes that they could be that one on the ice," said Ghafour.

The simulator lets you drive the Zamboni on the ice rink, which you can see with the special headset. The object is to cover as much of the ice as possible in 90 seconds.

There are also exhibits to test actual hockey skills. Like shooting the puck. Or, in this case, a rubber ball. Not that it matters.

Tickets for the event outside of the United Center are free. It starts at 3 p.m. on Friday. The Stanley Cup will make an appearance on Friday and Saturday.
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