This weekend I had the opportunity to participate in my second charity hockey game. It was hosted by the guys who run Put Cancer On Ice, a local group that has been organizing hockey games to raise money to donate to Hockey Fights Cancer in memory of Dave Fay. Dave Fay was a local Washington Times beat reporter covering the Washington Capitals hockey team. I didn't move to the DC area until after he passed away, but by all accounts he was a well liked and well respected journalist, having been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a journalist as a recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award.
The game is a chance for a bunch of players of different levels and abilities to get together and have some fun for a great cause. My first loss to cancer was my high school swim coach, a guy who swam division I for the University of Michigan and appeared to be the picture of health. My most recent loss was my final grandparent, my mother's mom. I'd be willing to bet that everyone on the ice and the stands has been affected by that evil disease. So we play hockey to raise money to help fight cancer.
Speaking of great fun, it's really cool hearing the same guy [Wes Johnson] who does the in game announcements at the Verizon Center for the Caps games announcing your name during the introductions. It's another rush when you're introduced after two Washington Capitals alumni. Of course, it's pretty cool when you turn around for the national anthem to find the flag in Kettler Capitals Iceplex only to be greeted by four huge banners of some of the greatest Caps players and realize that you're standing next to one of them.
Yep, I'm standing on the blueline next to Yvon Labre listening to the national anthem and staring at that huge banner of his on the wall, right next to the flags. I was skating for team Virginia, because that's where I've been living for the last four years of my life now. Yvon joined Paul Mulvey as our two Washington Capitals alumni. The Maryland team ringered up with three alumni; Alan Hangsleben, Gary Rissling and Gord (Gordon) Lane.
This is the second year I've had the pleasure of skating on the same team with Yvon Labre. unfortunately for me, I didn't get to skate on the same line with him at all this time around. But it looks like he managed to have fun anyway, as seen above. As a matter of fact, it was tough to tell who was having a better time, the alumni or us mere mortals.
Alan Hangsleben, seen above, managed to get himself a Gordie Howe hat trick in a charity game. Don't worry, he and Virginia's Player/Coach Sterling Wright ended up playing rock, paper, scissors to see who got to fall on the ice first. Sterling won the right to cool off first.
Gary Rissling, seen above, had a huge smile on his face pretty much the entire game. Again, it was difficult telling who had more fun sometimes. Most of the time these guys were just toying with us, but not hurting out feelings too bad, which was awful nice of them. All five guys were class acts for the entire game, gently hooking and bumping guys off the pucks while making these breath-taking set-up passes and taking a few nice shots to remind the crowd who were the pros.
A great big thanks goes out to Gavin Toner and Robert Keaton who organized this game for the fourth time. I'm already looking forward to my next opportunity to help fight cancer while skating with some living legends!