LOS ANGELES â€” Justin Bieber got a taste of NHL hockey and the Staples Center glass Saturday, courtesy of NHL great Chris Pronger.
The pop star responded by showing off skills that would not have looked out of place in his native Canada during a celebrity exhibition game.
Bieber was driven into the boards in the first half by a laughing Pronger, who spent 18 years in the league as a hard-nosed defenceman. The singer responded with an empty-net goal and an assist as Team Gretzky beat Team Lemieux 5-3 in the 2017 NHL All-Star Celebrity Shootout.
Bieber did not look out of place while sharing the ice with current NHL stars Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and the Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane, along with a host of retired greats and hockey-loving entertainment figures.
Although he did miss two penalty shots, Bieber scored a goal as time expired, prompting actor Cuba Gooding Jr. to joke, “Twenty-five shots later, thank God he made it.”
“I was shocked at how good the kid can play,” said Gooding, who scored the winning goal. “He really has nice skills, and he’s a real sweet kid, too.”
Pictures posted to the NHL’s Instagram account showed a smiling Bieber with Wayne Gretzky in the locker room. Bieber will be back at Staples Center on Feb. 12 as he is nominated for four Grammys, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year.
Local Southern California favourites including Luc Robitaille and Teemu Selanne wore patches on their jerseys honouring Canadian actor Alan Thicke, a longtime fan of the Los Angeles Kings who died in December while playing hockey.
Dan Greenspan, The Associated Press