‘He’s part of us’: 9-year-old Owen Micciche’s impact with Flyers goes beyond Hockey Fights Cancer Ni

The Bucks County youngster, and Genesis Hockey Club player, who signed a one-day contract with the Flyers last month and watched a period of the Dec. 3 game from the bench with John Tortorella, continues to battle cancer.

John Tortorella has some new decor in his office at Wells Fargo Center.

It’s not an award; he’s gotten those before. The new decor is a plaque he received on Dec. 3 that holds a picture that not only gives the Flyers’ fiery bench boss goose bumps but seems to melt the grizzled hockey veteran and put a smile on his face wider than the length of the Walt Whitman Bridge.

It is a picture of Tortorella and 9-year-old Owen Micciche of Upper Black Eddy, Bucks County.

Micciche and Tortorella first met on Nov. 28. The spunky kid who plays wing, but wants to play center, for the Genesis Hockey Club was signed to a contract by the Flyers in advance of Hockey Fights Cancer Night. According to his mother, Jen, Flyers director of community relations Tori Kimberly originally reached out as Owen was selected by Noah Cates to attend a game. But hearing his backstory, the Flyers decided to match it to Hockey Fights Cancer Night.

“He’s part of us,” Tortorella said. “His mom had texted me a couple of days prior [to the Dec. 3 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins] that they’re going to be coming in. And whenever they come to a game, they are coming down to that room. He is part of our room now. The boys love seeing them again. I brought him in and he just kind of wandered and started sitting around with the guys and I left them there until they went out there for the warmup. That’s important stuff.”

Overcoming a setback

At 6 months old, Owen was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent a year-and-a-half of chemotherapy and the low-grade brain tumor was stable for more than seven years. But when they went back in July for scans to see if Owen could move into the Survivorship Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, doctors found new tumors that had spread down his spine and a genetic mutation that could not only make his tumor more aggressive but could cause other cancers.

Owen has had a few surgeries since the summer and has restarted chemotherapy. In October, he was in the hospital for about a month, including two weeks in the ICU.

“Now that he’s 9, and he kind of understands what he’s going through, he emotionally was having a hard time for a while and he was getting pretty sad and I was starting to worry,” Jen Micciche said. “And seeing him get to do this, his mood and his spirits have lifted. He’s in such a good mood. He’s happy, telling all his friends about it. And he’s got a really great hockey team that he plays for, really supportive. So we’re just blessed that we just have so many people who are out there that care about him.”

Owen is back in school — his favorite subjects are math and, of course, recess — and playing hockey. The captain of his 10U team, Owen hits the outdoor rink in the family’s yard for an hour before school and heads right back out afterward to work on his shooting.

Before the Flyers game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Nov. 28, he got a chance to showcase those hockey skills. Owen arrived at Wells Fargo Center to a Flyers jersey with his No. 85 proudly hanging in his own stall next to Carter Hart’s in the team’s dressing room. He then laced up his skates and headed out with another Owen, the Flyers’ Owen Tippett, for a rookie lap.

“Yeah, it’s awesome. Obviously, it might not seem like much because we get to do that as our job, but ... it was pretty cool and to be able to experience it with him was really awesome. I’m happy we could give him that experience,” said Tippett, who also received a picture he treasures from the family.

Article written, By Jackie Spiegel