BARRIE – To paraphrase an old sports quote, “I went to a charity event and a hockey game broke out.”
Hockey Night in Barrie, held last Thursday, was a rousing success as the event raised more than $226,000 for the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre.
Over one hundred hockey stars, celebrities, politicians and local business people took part in the event that is getting stronger and more popular every year.
RVH President and CEO Janis Skot received the huge cheque at centre ice and was blown away by another year of charity.
“In our fifth year and we are still the benefit of all the good friendship, cheer and of course well over $200,000 raised in one evening for the Regional Cancer Centre,” said Skot. “We have been supported by our community and beyond from day one. On top of the celebrities that have been a part of this, I really enjoy the former Colts players coming back and supporting their old community; what a wonderful thing to do.”
Spearheaded by MP Patrick Brown, HNIB is becoming the place to be for giving this time of year.
NHL superstar Corey Perry, NHL Hall of Famer Mike Gartner, the legendary Don Cherry and even the Minister of Defence Peter MacKay were on hand to lend their support for the cause which saw a packed Barrie Molson Centre cheer every move on the ice.
“What a special event for us, the fans and of course the RVH,” said Brown. “I’m a hockey addict so to be able to be involved with an event like this in the middle of summer, while we already miss our hockey, is a wonderful experience.”
While those in attendance were expecting a well-executed, skilled hockey game, that’s not exactly what they got.
With actor Alan Thicke and the entertaining figure skater Kurt Browning on the ice, fans got hockey and a show.
Retired NHL referee Ron Hoggarth had his whistle in one hand and a microphone in the other, penalty shots were awarded at the fans calling and interviews done during and after plays.
Hockey Night In Canada broadcaster Ron MacLean was thrilled to be lending his support to a wonderful cause but says the fun that is had makes it all worthwhile as well.
“One of the prettiest goals I’ve ever seen in hockey was Darcy Tucker’s goal here two years ago and that always comes to mind,” said MacLean. “Shayne Corson and Tucker are old friends from this neck of the woods and the group that comes out every year is a lot of fun to be a part of and you can’t go wrong with the sport in Barrie; it’s always been a great hockey town.”
Barrie being a hockey town was not lost on even the youngest of stars at HNIB.
After the second period and with the game at 13-12 for the White squad over the Blue, current Barrie Colt blueliner Aaron Ekblad reflected on the event and city he plays for.
“This is a great opportunity for us to play for a good cause and it also helps me as a young guy to learn what it’s like to give back,” he said. “Fundraising is important and anytime I can play in front of my home away from home, it’s a good thing.”
At the eight-minute mark of the third a penalty shootout was awarded to both sides and by the end of the game captain Corson’s White team beat Gartner’s captained Blue team by a 17-16 score.
All pucks that saw the back of the net were thrown into the crowd as souvenirs, much to the delight of the fans.
While many will remember the night as a fun filled and entertaining evening, former Stanley Cup winning coach Mike Keenan reflected on what the night meant to him.
“On top of the fact that I’m a fourth generation Port McNicoll guy, my mother died of cancer and she was treated here in Barrie so it really hits close to home,” said Keeenan. “The hospital took real good care of my mom and treated as best they could. It’s a great hospital and I’m glad I can be a very small part of giving back to it.”