Good times ran wild at the “Battle of the Badges” charity hockey game here last Friday night.
Almost 800 people filled the Ice for Kids Arena to watch guest referee Eddie Shack and celebrity player Marcel Dionne skate with local law enforcement players in an exhibition game.
When the dust settled, the “White” team outlasted the “Black” squad 12-10. But more importantly, the game raised just over $2,000 for the Fort Frances chapter of Northwestern Ontario Crime Stoppers.
“We were pleased with how everything went,” co-organizer Murray Alexander said of the first “Battle of the Badges” game played here. “I think there’s definitely the possibility for another one.”
But despite the real reason for the evening, there was still a game to be won.
“The strategy was to coast until the third period,” winning coach Tony “Sour Grapes” Lloyd remarked after his team almost let a 10-5 lead after two periods slip away before adding a late insurance marker to ice the win.
“We just wanted to come on late and our guys delivered when they had to.
“We had some injured players and guys pull out. So yes, I think we showed the heart of a champion—or something like that,” he laughed.
Team Black actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Mike Allison and Gary Beck.
“We thought we had the intimidation factor on our side,” Allison said with a wry smile when asked why his team had jumped out to the short-lived lead.
“In the first, our defenceman Kirk Armstrong intimidated Marcel [Dionne] and I think that set the tone.”
Maybe not, Mike. Team White replied with seven unanswered goals and never really looked back, although Team Black exploded for five goals in the third to make things close.
Dionne, an NHL Hall-of-Famer, netted four goals and added four assists, including setting up the insurance goal by Paul Blais to make it 12-10 in the dying minutes.
“I think my guys let up after scoring the first two goals. Maybe they thought they were going to coast,” said Team Black head coach Gary “the Gangster” Vittie.
“We had to rally and we just came up a little short.”
High point-getters on Team Black included Beck (four goals/two assists) and Dan Mihichuk (three assists).
Mike Golding scored three goals and one assist while Tom Kenny chipped in with three helpers in support of teammate Dionne’s efforts.
While the event’s success may spell another game here next year, Lloyd said his squad is “just a step below the NHL” and is ready to take their show on the road.
Off the ice, several hockey souvenirs were on sale at the arena, including a live auction of an autographed Eddie Shack Toronto Maple Leafs jersey conducted by “The Entertainer” himself.
Youngsters also swamped the halls of the Memorial Sports Centre during intermissions and at the end of the game for autographs from Shack and Dionne.
“It was great. It was a great deal to be a part of,” remarked Vittie.
“You think about the support this community gives. There’s always a concern whether you’ll get a good turnout, but the community came out and helped a worthy cause,” noted Allison.
“Plus, the stars were out tonight: Dionne, Shack, and Mike Golding.”