Fifth annual Rocky Mountain Hockey Challenge most successful yet
Although this year’s event was held a little later than originally planned, the fifth annual Rocky Mountain Hockey Challenge, at the Cochrane Arena on Aug. 18, was a rousing success.
“It has definitely gone well,” said Wild Rose Member of Parliament Blake Richards. “We had a nice turnout, and while I’m sure we had a lot of people come to see the NHL players, everyone has come out here to support a great cause.”
This year’s charity event was the most successful to date with $85,351 donated to the RCMP Victims’ Services Units, putting the five-year total at $280,351.
“To raise that much money is fantastic,” St. John’s Ice Caps captain and Calgary native Jason Jaffray said. “You couldn’t look for a better cause to give to right now than to those victims units.”
This year’s game was originally scheduled to take place at the Edge School for Athletics in Springbank on June 30, but the event was postponed due to the flooding across southern Alberta.
Once the floodwaters receded, organizers of the event quickly went to work to find a new date and a venue.
“Whenever you have to get 30 people scheduled and when you need to find and book an arena, there is going to be a lot of hard work to get everything together,” Richards said. “There was definitely some work that went into getting everything rescheduled for today, but we all made it here.”
One of the main attractions for the fans in attendance on Aug. 18 was Edmonton Oilers’ right winger Jordan Eberle, who was added to the roster a week before the event and was cheered on throughout the afternoon by a sea of people in Oilers jerseys.
“There are a few guys here today who go to the same gym with me in Calgary, and I found out about the event through them,” Eberle said. “It was great to get out on the ice and skate with a lot of good players, and to see the amount of money that was raised here was awesome.”
Sunday’s charity game was also a homecoming of sorts for Airdrie native Dana Tyrell, who is now playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“My parents were in the stands here watching me and that brought back a lot of memories, which makes it very nice to play in my home area again,” he said. “It’s always nice to help out in these kind of events, especially when it goes toward a good cause.”
Heading into the game, it looked as if Team Richards might have the advantage with Eberle, Tyrell and Philadelphia Flyer defenceman Braydon Coburn on the roster.
But when the final buzzer sounded, it was Team Alberta who came away with the Wild Rose Cup trophy, as Jaffray, New York Islander defenceman Thomas Hickey, and former Winnipeg Jet Morris Lukowich led their team to a 12-8 victory.
“Everyone was accusing me of stacking the teams, so I thought that we would let them get off to a fast start and try to come back in the third period,” Richards said.
“... It was a lot of fun out there, and I think the pace was good and entertaining for the fans,” Jaffray added.