OTTAWA -- Hockey fans may not be able to cheer on their favourite players in the stands, but some local children found a creative way to celebrate Ottawa Senators rookie Tim Stützle's first NHL hat trick.

Stützle scored three goals against the Winnipeg Jets in Saturday’s game, which the Sens won 4-2, but there were no hats thrown on the ice to honour his accomplishment, as the stadium stands remain empty.

That's when Stützle' backyard neighbour, Andrew Morrisey, planned a surprise, organizing to have his two sons Matthew and Nicolas join other kids in the area and toss their hats over the boards of their backyard fence.

“We felt bad that he didn’t get the opportunity to get his hat-trick celebrated properly,” says Morrisey. “These are strange times and we felt the need to celebrate because scoring a hat trick in the NHL is one thing but scoring it at 19 is another.”

Not only was it Stützle’s first NHL hat trick, he became the youngest Ottawa Senators player to have one.

Morrisey says he called Sens player Brady Tkachuk, one of Stützle's roommates—Josh Norris is the other—to co-ordinate the hat toss. When the young hockey player stepped onto his porch, about a dozen kids cheered him on and threw their hats into his yard.

“In the video, you can see him then the hats start to go and then he actually turns and looks back at Brady, who’s behind him, in somewhat of an astonished fashion,” says Morrisey, “and he turns back to the kids and I think he was a little bit overwhelmed.”

On Tuesday, after the Senators morning practice skate, Stützle spoke about the neighbourhood surprise, calling it amazing.

“It was unreal and a great thing of them to do that and I was very, very happy for that so I can’t think them enough to for doing that,” said Stützle. “You can already tell it’s a hockey city and everybody loves watching hockey and supports us. I mean, we can’t be thankful enough for what they did to us and that shows the support. They stay behind us in every situation and always behind the players and this team and the whole staff and that was definitely an unreal feeling.”

Stützle remained on his patio but the kids couldn’t quite keep their excitement physically-distanced as they tossed toques and caps over the fence.

“Parents have said they haven’t seen their kids that happy in a year,” says Morrisey. “All the kids have masks on and the video is only 28 seconds long and really didn’t take much more than a minute.”

As for all the hats, they were returned, as any good neighbour would do.