The second annual Wild Rose Hockey Challenge was a huge success with Team Alberta taking the title 16-15 in a shootout, July 11 at the Ron Ebbesen Arena in Airdrie.
The annual charity hockey game, organized by Wild Rose MP Blake Richards, raised more than $22,000 for local victims assistance groups.
The game saw Team Alberta, headed by Airdrie-Chestermere MLA Rob Anderson, take on Richards’ Team Canada hockey club.
Current NHLers Zach Boychuck of the Carolina Hurricanes, Jason Jaffray of the Anaheim Ducks and Craig Weller of the Florida Panthers suited up with a number of MLAs, MPs and some past and future NHL stars.
“To have some pros out here, future pros, and some guys like Sheldon Kennedy and Morris Lukowich, pretty darn good ex-NHLers…we are glad to send out over $22,000 to victims assistance,” said Richards. “It was a nice close game.”
The contest got off to a blistering start, as Canada took a 6-0 lead by the 10-minute mark of the first 15-minute frame, lighting up netminder Anderson.
“We got off to a rough start, it took a while to gel,” said Anderson. “We started getting our groove and we ended up winning, despite some questionable officiating and timekeeping.”
It took an end-to-end effort by Boyckuck to get Alberta on the board, prompting an offensive onslaught. Seven second-period goals helped Team Alberta take a 10-9 lead into the final frame. An 11-goal third period resulted in a 15-15 tie, sending the matchup to a shootout.
Some notable Team Alberta goal scorers included Airdrie stars Andrew Bergman with four, Ty Rattie with a hat-trick and Boychuck with four.
Canada’s NHL ringer Weller scored four times, former Calgary Flame Sheldon Kennedy notched a hat-trick and Richards tallied one in the third-period. Quinn Richards, son of the MP, was able to score a late third period goal to keep Canada in the game.
The shootout came down to a battle between Richards and Anderson, a suitable end to the event.
“It was fun to have it come down to a shootout shot between myself and Blake,” said Anderson. “I warned him that I had been practicing this year. I thought he was going to go stick side for sure. He went to my strong side and it was total denial.”
While Anderson is relieved the Wild Rose Cup will spend a year in his office, he said the cause is what the event is all about.
“Victims services is such a great cause,” said Anderson. “Crime shatters lives and it puts people into a big hole, so it’s great to be able to help raise this money.”
WHLer Rattie echoed Anderson’s comments, adding that it’s nice to spend some time in his home rink.
“It was for a great cause, and anytime you ca do this type of stuff, you jump at it,” he said. “It’s great to come home, especially this arena. I grew up in this arena.”
Carolina Hurricane Boychuck was excited to return for the second annual event after partaking last year.
“I remember it being so much fun, so I wanted to come back and give a little better effort,” said Boychuck. “It’s a lot of fun to give back. I played a couple years here, that was basically the start of my career. I owe this rink a lot of thanks. I will definitely come out here anytime to play around.”