‘Kipper Kid’ shows up in full gear for first time in four years
Brendan Peters, once famous for his pre-game Kiprusoff tribute, pays his respects for what is likely one of the goalie’s final Dome starts
In this town, he is a familiar sight. The red jersey — with No. 34 on the back — and the pads are a dead giveaway.
So it doesn’t take long. A couple of fans, spotting the celebrity, sidle over.
“Can I take a picture?” says one.
The other politely asks him to remove his headgear.
Decent chap, he lifts his mask, exposing that trademark red beard, and poses.
Picture snapped, he briskly gets on with the business of preparing for Wednesday’s action, now only minutes away. He appears a tad antsy.
And who can blame him?
For the first time in four years, Brendan Peters is head-to-toe in his Miikka Kiprusoff get-up. This night is a special occasion — one of Kiprusoff’s last appearances on Scotiabank Saddledome ice. The young man aims to honour his hockey hero in style.
So, in his own swansong, Peters goes through the act that made him famous — mimicking, with reverence, the Calgary Flames star netminder’s every move during warm-up.
“This is a thank you and a goodbye,” says Peters. “It feels good to strap on the pads one more time. I’d say that he and I share something special. I grew up watching Kiprusoff. I’ll never forget — nor should any other Flames fan — what he’s done for this franchise.
“He’s been the heart and soul of this team, so I praise him for that.”
You would never recognize Peters in his everyday role as Grade 11 student at Notre Dame High School. Nor would you recall his name.
But gear on, mid-schtick, recognition is instant.
Call him what you want.
He says he has no preference, adding, “I’m there for Kiprusoff and he’s there for the Flames.”
Peters, with his father Evan’s blessing, had first performed during the 2005-06 season — Kiprusoff’s Vezina Trophy campaign.
“At home, he would emulate him and do his moves,” says Evan. “I had season tickets and I thought, ‘This would be kind of neat. Put on some gear like Kipper’s. Go do it behind him during warm-up.’ Well, he was a natural.”
It was supposed to be a tribute, never a novelty act.
“The whole reason I did this was for Kiprusoff — to show him, ‘I look up to you,’ “ says Peters. “It’s not meant to be perfect — to look exactly like him, to do exactly what he does. It’s the spirit behind it.”
The hockey world took note.
The city was in love with the Flames, fresh off a Stanley Cup final appearance, and its citizens adored the red-headed netminder. So to see a kid, with a painted-on beard and all the equipment, running through a loving imitation nightly? It was impossible to ignore.
Suddenly, there were television cameras and curious reporters.
“It totally got blown out,” says Peters. “Lots of recognition. That was really cool. I never expected it to be this big of a deal.”
At the end of that season, Peters, as a guest of the Flames and the National Hockey League, attended the awards ceremony in Vancouver. Although Kiprusoff had already returned to Finland, the lad had a blast.
“Everybody treated us like gold,” says Evan. “The Flames sent a signed stick and a jersey right to Vancouver.”
But that represents only sliver of a memorabilia collection that includes a mountain of Kiprusoff’s hockey cards. Probably 200 of them, says Peters.
Any plans to some day parlay them into cash?
“No, no,” he replies, actually recoiling. “They’re sticking with me for the rest of my life.”
Somewhat surprisingly, Peters has made his peace with the possibility of Kiprusoff’s exit. He knows the Finn has another season on his contract. He knows nothing’s been announced officially.
But he realizes Kiprusoff has earned the right to decide his future.
“Whatever he chooses, I say, ‘Thank you,’ ” says Peters. “The reason I watch hockey is because of Kiprusoff. I loved watching him play, for sure. Yeah, I’m sad . . . but I’m going to be a Flames fan all my life.”
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