The Danbury Hat Tricks of the Federal Prospects Hockey League will hold their free-agent training camp Oct. 21-23, with 30 players expected to attend, including one with an especially inspiring story.

Sam Tageson was born with only two chambers in his heart, a condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome. As a result, he was warned about the dangers of contact sports from an early age but never let it discourage him from playing hockey, his favorite sport growing up in the South Bay Area of California.

“I just remember when I was in the hospital as a young kid, I would always watch the [San Jose] Sharks games,” Tageson said. “It got me through so much as a kid that I knew it was something that I wanted to do.”

In 2014 Tageson, then 18 years old, was granted a wish by the Make-a-Wish Foundation to spend a game day with the Sharks. On March 18 of that year, he met and skated with Sharks players and coaches.

“I got to skate with the Sharks at a practice and hang out with the guys for a few hours, it really was a dream come true,” Tageson said.

His special day peaked when he was able to skate out of the big shark head onto the ice at SAP Arena, as the Sharks do before each home game. Tageson skated in front of 17,000 fans that night and lined up between defensemen Brent Burns and Scott Hannan on the blue line during the National Anthem.

He was saluted with a standing ovation when he skated off the ice before puck drop.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSJDXObels8 (Courtesy of Brodie Brazil)

Since that day Tageson has continued to follow his passions both as a granter of wishes for Make-a-Wish and as a hockey player.

“Once my wish was granted in 2014, I knew that it was a process I wanted to be a part of, so I became a wish granter,” Tageson explained.

Tageson now sits with children who are in search of their wish and helps them through the process of making that decision. Even with the time he’s spent helping kids achieve their dreams, Tageson never lost sight of his own dreams.

“Hockey was always the number one priority in my life, from playing youth and high school ice hockey to getting the opportunity to play with the national roller hockey team in 2013 and 2014, then the NorCal Ice Raiders of the MWHL from 2016 until 2019.”

The 25-year-old goalie’s journey now brings him to Danbury, where next week he’ll take part in his first professional camp, trying to win a spot on the Hat Tricks roster.

“My buddy sent me the link about the tryout, and I knew I wanted to give it a shot,” Tageson said. “It was tough to find ice during [the coronavirus pandemic] here in California, we would drive hundreds of miles to find a sheet that would let us suit up and get some work in.”

Tageson welcomes the opportunity that lies ahead of him, just as Hat Tricks coach Dave MacIsaac is excited to begin putting the team together for the 2021-22 season.

“We are looking forward to having our guys back out on the ice,” MacIsaac said. “It will be a quick turnaround from the beginning of free-agent camp to our first game on the 29th, we are ready to get back into the building and get to work.”