The Upper Deck Company, the NHL’s exclusive trading card manufacturer, is pleased to announce that 12-year-old Ezekiel “Zeke” Estrada of Anaheim has been selected as the grand prize winner in the company’s recent “NHL Entry Draft Runner” essay contest. The promotion was conducted over the past three weeks across 10 participating Los Angeles-area hobby shops where shop owners solicited written entries from eligible customers between the ages of 10 and 14 who purchased a box of 2009-10 Upper Deck NHL hockey cards. The rules were simple: submit a one-paragraph explanation to the shop owner describing why he or she should be selected for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve as Upper Deck’s NHL Entry Draft Runner at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, which is scheduled to take place on Friday, June 25, and Saturday, June 26, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Several dozen written entries were passed along to Upper Deck headquarters by the deadline of Monday, June 14, and after an internal committee of staffers read each of the submissions, Zeke Estrada was named the lucky winner. A competitive center currently playing for the Anaheim Junior Ducks in the Southern California Amateur Hockey Association’s Pee-Wee Double-A division, Estrada was ecstatic to hear the news.
“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” he said. “I’ve been playing hockey for seven years and collecting hockey cards for at least that long, but this was something I never expected would happen to me. I just want to thank Upper Deck for this great chance to get so close to the new draftees.”
The son of George and Patty Estrada, Zeke stands 5’ 3” tall and weighs 123 pounds. He names current Montreal Canadiens’ center Scott Gomez, the first Latino player ever drafted (1998) by an NHL team, as his favorite player and is eager to take part in the NHL’s annual event later this month. His duties will include serving as an official Draft Entry Runner for one NHL team while player evaluations and selections are made. “I’m very serious about one day hopefully playing in the NHL, so this is a dream come true for me,” he said.
Estrada submitted his winning entry through the OC Dugout hobby shop in Anaheim. His entry included this convincing portion: “I can be part of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; the chance to be so close to the players that have dedicated and worked so hard for the sport I love. It will be an honor to give something back, be a part of history and share in the joy of the ultimate dream come true.”
“Zeke’s been a loyal customer of ours since we opened back in March of last year,” said OC Dugout owner Brian Nicalek. “I’m very excited that his entry was selected as the best overall. He’s a good kid and he deserves it.”
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