NHL players trade goals for a good cause
Friday night at Anaheim ice in Anaheim, Cali., a group of about 500 hockey fans and players gathered together to benefit the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and the Jr. Ducks PeeWee AAA club in a charity hockey game.
Prior to the puck drop in Anaheim, fans and players alike were asked to take a moment of silence to honor the innocent lives lost earlier in the day in Newtown, Conn., followed by the singing of both the Canadian and American National Anthems.
While overshadowed by the events of the day, the game that took place was nothing short of a cheerful, fun, and overall great way of raising funds to benefit the local community and families residing within it.
A Southern California match up was taking place as members of what should be the Anaheim Ducks – thank you lockout, ahem – including Teemu Selanne, Brad Staubitz, Jonas Hiller, and now Florida Panthers winger George Parros, took on members of the 2012 Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings including Jeff Carter, Dustin Penner, Trevor Lewis, and Rob Scuderi. Ultimately the “Ducks” would take the contest but the real winners were the children who would benefit from funds raised through auctions and gate receipts.
According to Jen Henriksen, the media coordinator for the event, a total of $33,859 was raised at the event. The PeeWee club benefiting from funds raised will use them to go to a tournament in Quebec.
Warm-ups were a bit unconventional as the Jr. Ducks squad joined the NHL players on ice. As Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller stretched out prior to the game he was joined by Jr. Ducks goalie Carl Stankowski, a truly moving image of a young player being mentored by someone he looks up to. The experience, Stankowski said, was “pretty sick!”
“I remember back when I was a kid in Switzerland and the Pee Wee tournament was the thing that was huge,” said Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller. “You knew there would be tons of people watching it and following it. So, everybody wanted to participate in that and I had a chance to go. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially at that age. Being from Switzerland and traveling to Canada and seeing a whole other world was really cool.”
Former Ducks right winger George Parros also commented on the importance of participating in community driven charity events.
“It’s all about serving the community. When you play in these communities you grow fond of them and make attachments. So, when a young team in the area wants to go and play in a Pee Wee tournament, if we can help out, we’re going to do everything we can.”
Brad Staubitz was obviously enjoying himself on the ice as he got his wheels going with a grin on his face for almost every minute of the game.
He threw in his two cents on the evening.
“It’s just a good atmosphere and with the season the way it is right now, it’s nice to be able to get into the playing city, spend some time, get involved in the community and obviously it’s a great cause today with the proceeds going to CHOC and the other half going to fund the team so they can get up to Quebec so they can play in the PeeWee tournament,” Staubitz said. “It’ll be a good experience for them, show them a bit about the hockey culture in Canada and Quebec itself … that’s a whole new world. We’re just happy to get out here and see the support.”
Staubitz did admit he was a bit rusty one the ice.
“Definitely sluggish, but what snaps you out of it is just watching Teemu Selanne fly around and you’re like ‘Geez that guy is like forty something years old I better get going!’ so he’s a motivator,” Staubitz said. “Felt a little sluggish but it was fun and I got to score some goals which is a rarity so that was nice!”
Although he just signed a two-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks in July, Staubitz may want to cherish the game he played with his motivator Selanne. As the lockout continues, rumors that the 42-year old Selanne may hang up his skates before the start of the 2013 season swirl.
Rumors and lockout aside, Selanne was noticeably happy to have been able to help out the community that has supported him for so long.
“Anytime you can help some people it’s a very important thing for us, especially CHOC hospital,” Selanne said. “You feel good when you can help people who really need some help. Playing a game and raising money for a good cause is priceless.”
Given the tumultuous atmosphere surrounding the NHL currently, seeing the stars of hockey come out for a night of good, old-fashioned hockey was a great experience for fans and news-hungry hockey reporters alike. Couple that with the chance to do some good for the deserving kids of the community and you have something that not even the endless days of an NHL lockout can take away, a reason to smile.