A charity hockey game in Port Alberni this weekend will see former NHL players taking on members of the community.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni will be coming to B.C. for the first time ever to play a three-game charitable hockey tour to support community inclusion. The games will be played in Port Alberni, Victoria and Chilliwack, with the Leafs facing off against teams of local players.
The tour started with the Chilliwack Society for Community Living. Chilliwack has hosted alumni teams in previous years—including the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. This year, the Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni decided to make it a tour.
All proceeds from the games will go to help support children, youth and adults with intellectual disabilities and special needs in British Columbia.
Craig Summers, the executive director for the Port Alberni Association for Community Living (PAACL), explained that all proceeds from Friday’s game will be staying locally in Port Alberni.
The benefit of the game is twofold, added Summers. The game will raise funds for PAACL, but it also promotes community inclusion for people with disabilities.
The Inclusion Cup tour uses the common bond of hockey to bring together people of all abilities to celebrate inclusion and diversity.
“We’re bringing awareness that inclusion is possible,” said Summers. “Our arena does really well at that. Our clients are some of the [Alberni Valley] Bulldogs’ biggest fans.”
In Port Alberni, the Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni will take on the PAACL Bombers, made up of a roster of 18 individuals from Port Alberni.
“We put it out to the community, and people applied for the opportunity,” explained Summers. “It’s a group of individuals from various parts of the community. Some play in the rec league, some haven’t played in years.”
One notable Maple Leafs player will be Rick Vaive, who was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in 1979, but traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He later became the first 50-goal scorer in franchise history. Other players include Brad May, Steve “Stumpy” Thomas, goaltender Trevor Kidd, Tom Fergus, Garth Butcher, Al Iafrate, Mike Krushelnyski, Gary Valk and Dan Daoust.
“It promises to be a lot of fun,” said Summers. “It will be a really entertaining game.”
The game will start at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21 at the Alberni Valley Multiplex. The concession and lounge will be open for the game, and a few Alberni Valley Bulldogs players will be volunteering at the event. A number of Alberni Valley Bulldogs game-day volunteers will also be providing security and helping out at the door.
Tickets are $15 and are available at the PAACL admin office (3008 Second Ave.), at Starboard Grill Restaurant or online at www.eventbrite.com.
Ticket sales have been “on the slow side” so far, but Summers is hoping sales will pick up in the next week.
“In Port Alberni, we’re last-minute people,” he joked.