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Avalanche’s “Hero Homecoming” grants three kids a Jedi surprise on Star Wars night

Even in the wake of renewed fervor with this weekend’s release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” — and even knowing he was going to Star Wars night at the Avalanche game on Saturday — 11-year-old Grant Doyle used his several visits with Santa this winter to ask not for a Millennium Falcon, although that was no doubt high on his list.

Instead, Grant kept asking the big man to get his dad, Navy chief Bill Doyle, returned home by Christmas from a year-long tour in Africa, the sixth deployment of his 15-year military career.

Grant had his request granted early in the first period, when he and his two sisters, 9-year-old Grace and 8-year-old Gabby, were asked to participate in a ruse contest called “Guess the Star Wars Character.”

When the third character came out in a Jedi cloak, underneath — to the three kids’ shrieking surprise — was Bill, an unexpected reunification that had the Pepsi Center crowd on its feet.

The stunt was organized by Jill Doyle, Bill’s wife, who knew it’d be a lifelong memory for her entire family.

“I have a little bit of gumption — he’s an Avs fan, I knew the generic time frame that he was coming home, and I couldn’t think of a better way for the kids to never, ever forget it,” Jill Doyle said. “I typed a simple email to the Avalanche, and they responded really quick.”

It was a moment that was put in motion on a fateful September day in 2001, after which Bill didn’t hesitate to make a beeline to his local recruiter.

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