Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Battle Of The Badges

Tuesday was a big day in Winnipeg, and not just because the Winnipeg Jets were taking to MTS Centre ice for the first time ever. I mean, that was a pretty big event for all hockey fans in Winnipeg, but there was a great turnout of die-hard fans to meet hockey's Hanson Brothers on Tuesday as well! The Battle of the Badges game took place on Tuesday at the St. James Civic Centre, and there were some pretty big names on hand for the game: the Hansons, Kerry Fraser, Perry Miller, Dave Babych, and Trevor Kidd to name a few! The real stars, however, were the men and one woman who put the pads on to raise money for the Amadeus Steen Foundation, and they are heroes everyday in their jobs as emergency services responders and Winnipeg Police patrolmen.

The morning started out rainy and gray, but that didn't keep the Hansons from greeting the dozens of fans who came out in the rain to see the famed Slapshot stars! 92 CITI FM was on-hand to welcome the guests of honour as morning show hosts Tom and Joe showed Kerry Fraser and the Hansons a warm Winnipeg welcome! They were treated to some Tim Hortons coffee and doughnuts, and the fans got an opportunity to see them up close. If you noticed, the Hansons had their hockey sticks on hand because a game of street hockey was moments away!

Like any good street hockey game, sticks were tossed into the middle. Kerry Fraser, being the official presiding over the game, picked teams by tossing sticks, and the battle lines were drawn. The Hansons joined one of the teams, and they got their guys organized. With the rain falling, it didn't take long for the Hansons to hit the scoresheet as they netted the ball behind the goaltender, and Steve Carlson high-fived the men on his team as they jumped out to a 1-0 lead. The game was a back-and-forth affair, but the Hansons would eventually prevail with a 3-2 victory in the game! Nothing like starting off a great day with a big victory for the Slapshot stars!

Following the game, the stars of the show moved inside the lobby of the St. James Civic Centre where they posed for photos with fans. Even the littlest hockey fans got a chance to spend some time with the Hansons and Kerry Fraser! For me, it was a great morning in meeting these amazing guys, and I was very impressed with how generous they were with their time and how they made sure everyone got a photo with them. This kind of connection with the fans does not get forgotten.

The afternoon saw the crew at the Civic Centre prepare the ice and arena for the fans and the stars on Tuesday evening, and it was clear that everyone was in for a good time. The game got started just after 7:45PM, and we got introduced to the lineups for the teams.

We'll start with the Winnipeg Police Patrolmen. Constable Graeme Beattie was the first man on the ice. He was followed by Constable Phil Cole, Constable Al Mymryk, Constable Shaun Chornley, Constable Rick Lofto, goaltender Constable Shawn Lowry, Staff Sergeant Max Waddell, and Constable Bryan Hern. The bench was run by legendary Jets goaltender Joe Daley.

On the Emergency Services Celebrity All-Star team, there was a collection of players from all walks of life. Duncan MacPhail, a local radio personality, tended to the net. Former Winnipeg Jets Perry Miller and Wayne Babych, wearing his brother's uniform, suited up. The only woman in the event was ProHockey Life's Megan Hemenway. Former NHL goaltender Trevor Kidd took to the ice as a defenceman on this night. Former Winnipeg Jet Jimmy Mann was the man responsible for organizing the teams.

However, I was disappointed that a number of the celebrities no-showed on this night. Thomas Steen couldn't attend for the Patrolman team. Missing from the Emergency Services team were former NHLers Ray Neufeld and Carey Wilson. TV personalities like Nicole Dube and Peter Chura also skipped out on the event. It's hard to have the star power advertised when the stars don't actually show. But kudos to the stars for making it out and showing everyone that they still have the skills. They put on quite a show.

The real reason that everyone was there? Kerry Fraser and the Hanson Brothers. The Hansons got quite an ovation from the 500 fans in attendance. That sounds like a small crowd, but you have to realize that 15,000 fans were downtown in Winnipeg watching the Jets while thousands of other fans were taking advantage of the free preview of the Jets' TSN feed from MTS Centre. Needless to say, this game was a little overshadowed when it came to entertainment choices for the evening. However, the show put on by the players, the Hansons, and Fraser was excellent!

Before the game started, Constable Shaun Chornley, captain of the Patrolmen team, and Mona Steen posed for a few photos as the police and emergency service men and women showed their support of the Amadeus Steen Foundation. After the ceremonial faceoff, the Patrolmen and the Hansons jumped out to an early 5-2 lead despite the Hansons spending some time in the sin bin. Shawn Lowry was sharp in helping his team jump out to the early lead in the game.

The Hansons changed out of their blue uniforms into their white uniforms, and lent their skills and talents to the Emergency Services Celebrity All-Star team in the second period. The action was back and forth as both teams had chances. Duncan MacPhail stole the show in the second period as he really settled in and made some big saves. At the end of two periods, the Patrolmen saw their lead cut down to one goal as they led 8-7.

The Hansons spent the second intermission on the ice as they showed the next generation of players a little "old-time hockey". After discussing "putting on the foil", the guys helped the kids out in their fun game, and really ramped up the comedy. All the kids left the ice with smiles, and the parents were thrilled that their stars got to skate with the Slapshot stars.

The third period saw the Patrolmen increase their lead to 9-7 early on, and that didn't sit well with the Hansons. However, instead of going after the Patrolmen, the Hansons took down their goaltender, Duncan MacPhail! As MacPhail lay on the ice after his pummeling, he took an elbow smash from Steve Carlson, and Kerry Fraser had had enough. The Hansons were dismissed from the game for their aggression towards their own goaltender! The Hansons spent the last fifteen minutes of the game signing autographs and chatting with the fans in the concourse as the Patrolmen and Emergency Service All-Stars got down to business.

The two teams battled, and the Emergency Services team rallied with less than three minutes to go. Finding themselves down 9-8, they tied the game, gave up a goal, and then tied the game at 10-10 with less than a minute to play! With the faceoff in the Emergency Services zone, it looked like this game would end in a tie as there were only a few seconds left on the clock.

However, Wayne Babych showed why he was an NHLer who had a 54-goal season in '80-81. Babych took a pass down the wing after the Emergency Services team won the faceoff, and broke in on Lowry on a 2-on-1. Babych opted to shoot, and he drove home a slapshot that dented the twine just before time ran out! The Emergency Services team won the game 11-10!

As smiles were beaming all over the ice, the ceremonial handshake took place, and the players began to head off the ice. Some of them got stopped by the fans, though, and the Patrolmen got to feel like pro hockey players as they were asked for autographs! Phil Cole, Bryan Hern, and Shawn Lowry autographed as many t-shirts and souvenirs as Wayne Babych did!

All in all, it was a fantastic day and night of hockey, laughs, and memories for everyone. I'm happy that the Amadeus Steen Foundation benefited from this charity game between the real heroes that our kids should look up to and be proud of, and it looked and sounded like the guys involved in the game had a blast playing alongside some of the NHL greats, Kerry Fraser, and the Hanson Brothers.

I'm already looking forward to the 2012 Battle of the Badges game, and here's hoping the Amadeus Steen Foundation benefits every year from this wonderful event!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Anonymous said...

Please be advised, Russ Romaniuk and Mike Ford were there and played in the game. Your blog indicates they did not play.

I would correct that!

Teebz said...

Updated. They weren't listed on the sheet I was given as being present, but one of the organizers just confirmed they were there.

Thank you, Anonymous!