For Guelph firefighter Regan Stocco, stepping onto the ice with some of his childhood heroes is a dream come true.
And on January 20, Regan and his fellow firefighters will be lacing up the skates to take on the Pro Hockey Heroes – former NHL professionals visiting Guelph to help raise money for the Guelph Firefighters Benevolent Foundation.
Former all-stars Bernie Nicholls and Gary Leeman will be joined by Maple Leafs favourites Nik Antropov and Mark Laforest, as well as former Senator, Sabre and Penguins’ player Dave McIlwain.
Hockey fans will also enjoy seeing David Ayres on the ice. Ayres captivated the hockey world when as an emergency backup goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes, helped his team beat the Maple Leafs 6-3, making history as the oldest goalie to win his NHL debut and the first emergency netminder to earn a win in an NHL game.
The game is all for a good cause, but Stocco still says it’s an amazing feeling for the firefighters when they line up against some of their childhood heroes.
“It's a big deal for us,” Stocco said.
“Back when we were kids, Hockey Night in Canada was a huge thing,” Stocco said. “You had your snacks, and your dinner and at 7:00 you were ready for the game.”
“Those guys I watched on the ice were the guys I was always rooting for.”
The Hockey Heroes get to show off some of their playmaking skills, Stocco said, which haven’t diminished much since they appeared on television sets across the country.
And the firefighters get to show off a bit of their own skills as hockey players, something Stocco says aren’t quite at the NHL level, but still enough to provide for a great time.
“The Pro Hockey Heroes treat the fans so well, they go out, make some good plays, and have some fun,” Stocco said.
“We also get to show the Pro Hockey Heroes that Guelph’s got a pretty good hockey-playing fire department.”
And hockey fans are sure to enjoy the show. The Pro Hockey Heroes and Guelph’s firefighters hit the ice on January 20 at 4:30 pm at the Sleeman Centre.
Proceeds from the event go towards the Guelph Firefighters Benevolent Foundation, which helps provide life-saving medical equipment to local hospitals.
The foundation’s charitable collections have so far amounted to over $1 million to support the community since its inception in 1984.
The money has been used to purchase electric beds and crash carts, as well as contribute toward the C.T. Scan, Dialysis Machine, and equipment for the Chemotherapy Unit.
The funds raised by the Foundation have also purchased a Star Monitor for the Panda Warmers in the special Care Nursery, and a Pediatric Positioning Device for Groves Hospital in Fergus.
The hockey game itself has been running for the same amount of time – thirty years, by some estimates! First starting as an informal game to raise awareness and money, and now becoming one of the Foundation’s highlight events of the year.
“It’s all about community,” Stocco said. “It’s also about having some fun, raising money for a great cause.”
“It lets dad come out and see some of his old heroes on the NHL side, and maybe the kids are looking at us as local heroes, and just want to say ‘hi’ to us, watch a hockey game and have a good time.”
Sparky, the Guelph Firefighter’s mascot, will also be there for some extra fun, and firefighters will be more than happy to sign any autographs for the kids.
The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital will also be in attendance and promoting their 50/50 Hospital Lottery. Tickets for that lottery are available at www.ggh5050.ca.
For more information, visit the Guelph Firefighters Benevolent Foundation’s web page by clicking here or buy your tickets online by clicking here.