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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Clients, staff at Nashua’s PLUS Co. treated to visit from former Bruins players

Two former Boston Bruins hockey stars visited the PLUS Co. in Nashua on Tuesday.

Standouts Rick Middleton and Terry O’Reilly came to the downtown headquarters of the group, which provides support and services to developmentally disabled people in the Nashua area. About 40 clients and staff gathered to chat, share stories and play a hockey trivia game. ...

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Two former Boston Bruins hockey stars visited the PLUS Co. in Nashua on Tuesday.

Standouts Rick Middleton and Terry O’Reilly came to the downtown headquarters of the group, which provides support and services to developmentally disabled people in the Nashua area. About 40 clients and staff gathered to chat, share stories and play a hockey trivia game.

Terry Robinson, husband of a PLUS Co. volunteer, helped arrange the visit. He said he’s been “friendly with a lot of the old Bruins guys for years.”

“Rick’s been here a few times,” said Leni Hodgins, adult education director. “He’s a great fan of the Plus Company. Terry came to our silent auction in September, so they wanted to come for a visit.”

Middleton started his professional hockey career with the New York Rangers in 1974. He joined the Bruins in 1976 and retired in 1988. O’Reilly started with the Bruins in 1973. He retired in 1985.

The group had put together a hockey trivia game to play when their guests arrived.

“We’re hoping to stump them with a few questions,” Hodgins said.

Andrew Wolff, a PLUS Co. employee, flashed questions onto a screen in front of people in the great room.

“How many goals do you need for a hat trick?” he asked. “In what year was the first NHL game played?”

Hands were raised and answers shouted out before the two visitors walked up and stood before the group to answer personal questions.

Clients and staff asked about players, stats, fights and memorabilia. Then the pair took to a nearby table to sign autographs on a stack of glossy photos of themselves in their playing days.

Kim Shottes, PLUS Co. CEO, said the clients are “big sports fans.”

“It’s an opportunity to connect with other people,” Shottes said. “Like everybody else, they enjoy their sports and to have a sports legend come and visit them and pay attention is pretty cool.

“They’re so genuine. You can tell they’re enjoying it as much as everybody else is.”

John Oehlert sported a bright yellow Bruins cap complete with team members’ signatures.

“I’m happy to be here,” Oehlert said. “I met Rick before at the Irish Breakfast and ever since then, I’ve like him.”

“There are a lot of big Bruins fans here,” said Middleton as he signed autographs. “I enjoy the questions. They’re very knowledgeable. It’s also the look on their face. This is something different than their normal day. It’s always fun to do something different.”

Next to Middleton, O’Reilly asked each person their name as he pulled another of his photographs from the stack before signing it with a black Sharpie.

“The young adults seem to enjoy it,” he said. “It’s worthwhile. It is a wonderful organization.”

A client named Steve beamed as he waited for his autograph.

“You’re No. 1, Terry O’Reilly,” he said excitedly.

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590 or dhimsel@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Himsel on Twitter (@Telegraph_DonH).