Talking Turkey

U.S. Stars Recall Their Favorite Holiday Memories And Traditions



The holidays are a special time to share good food and good times with friends and family. From backyard football games to street hockey contests in the driveway, there’s plenty of fun around the house followed by family feasts and plenty of presents to open. USA Hockey Magazine asked some of the top players in the game for their favorite holiday memories and family traditions. 


Brady Tkachuk

Ottawa Senators

“I love both Thanksgiving and Christmas because it is a time to be around family and friends. Also the great meals during those holidays. We always have turkey, ham, gravy, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and sweet potato casserole, which is awesome. And for both meals!”


Patrick Kane

Chicago Blackhawks

“We always went to 4 o’clock Mass on Christmas Eve and stopped at Imperial Pizza after for a cheese pizza before heading to my aunt’s house for a family celebration. On Christmas Day, it would be opening gifts and a big breakfast at home with my sisters and mom and dad. Then we’d either go to Grandma and Grandpa Kano’s or gather at our house and we’d just play all day long. The day after Christmas it would be another celebration with my mom’s family or sometimes a hockey tournament.”


Quinn Hughes

Vancouver Canucks

“Coming downstairs on Christmas Day and seeing your presents and then opening them together with family was always my favorite. Also loved having a big breakfast and just hanging out with my brothers. It was awesome too to try out any new hockey stuff we got on the outdoor rink in our backyard. That was really enjoyable as well.


Jesse Compher

U.S. Women’s National Team

“I am one of three siblings, so we rotate each year which kid will get to put the angel on top of our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. It’s always fun to get to spend time with our entire family. My dad’s side of the family usually comes over on Christmas Eve and we always play, left, right, center and then my mom’s side of the family gets together on Christmas morning for breakfast. It’s a tradition for us to make pancakes and bacon together.”


Jincy Dunne

U.S. Women’s National Team

“Growing up, all six of us would sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve and wear matching Christmas onesies. We’d also do a Secret Santa sibling gift exchange each year as well.”


Nicole Hensley

U.S. Women’s National Team

“My family loves the holiday season. We always try to spend as much time together as possible. We go to the Denver Center for Performing Arts each year to see A Christmas Carol and on Christmas Eve the whole family gets matching pajamas. The best part of the holidays though, my mom makes the most incredible croissants every year on both Thanksgiving and Christmas.”


Jack Wallace

U.S. National Sled Team 

“I have a big family up and down the east coast and we’d get together in Franklin Lakes, N.J., for Thanksgiving and have a football game in our yard and also a street hockey game in the driveway or at our local roller rink. That was always a great time.

And at Christmas, we’d watch A Christmas Story every year and my dad would get me and my siblings with that same trick with the Red Rider BB gun hidden behind the cabinet in our house. Usually it would be hockey sticks that my brother and I wanted and my dad would wrap them up and put them behind the cabinet. It was the same gag every year but it was great.”


Josh Pauls

U.S. National Sled Team 

“My mom’s side of the family is very Italian, so during Thanksgiving and Christmas we always had the traditional dinners with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and things like that. Then we always had Italian food like meatballs, lasagna and baked ziti. I have really fond memories of those meals, especially since I’ve moved away and don’t get that much anymore. 

Another fond memory is spending Thanksgiving in St. John’s, Nova Scotia right before Covid hit. We had a fish dinner in the hotel lobby with some of my teammates. It was great to spend the holidays with them.”




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