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CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — You could say they won the golden ticket, literally.

A group of children, ages 4-9, got the chance to skate with Sidney Crosby and some of the other Pittsburgh Penguins players at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township on Monday.

“To be able to go out there with them, you know… is a lot of fun,” says Crosby. “They’ve got a ton of energy, and they’re excited.”

The special practice was a surprise part of the Little Penguins program. The effort provides free hockey equipment to children throughout the Pittsburgh area.

When some of the kids picked up their equipment at the beginning of the season, they were given a golden ticket. They thought they were going to watch the team practice. But in addition, as a surprise, they got a chance to skate with Crosby.

“They’re pretty fired up here today,” says Mike Chiasson, the Manager of Youth Hockey for the Pittsburgh Penguins. “It’s a pretty special day for these kids, and I think their parents are just as excited as they are, too.”

“It’s incredible, he’s been looking forward to this for weeks,” says Tracy Tighe, a mother from Bridgeville. “Last night, he made sure he got to bed early so he could get a good [night’s] sleep, because that’s what Sidney Crosby would do.”

Crosby is one of the sponsors of the Little Penguins. The program is now in its 10th season. Over the years, they’ve helped outfit nearly 10,000 children with hockey equipment.

“It’s fun,” says Crosby. “Seems like there’s a growing number [of children], so that’s good. It means a lot of kids are playing hockey and… hopefully they enjoy themselves today.”