Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Hockey Night At The Ballpark

For those that are unaware, the move Slap Shot is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. While we've lost Paul Newman in that time, there are still a number of stars who are enjoying the fruits of their work since filming the movie. Tonight, the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball's Winnipeg Goldeyes decided to honour the movie and a few of its stars by donning the above uniforms in the style of the Charlestown Chiefs!

As you may know, I'm usually against cross-sport promotions, but the connection between a minor-league "AA" baseball team and a minor-league fictional hockey team are about as far apart as one can get. In essence, this was like any Star Wars night or any other movie-themed night at the ballpark to me. The fact that it had to do with a hockey-themed movie made sit up and take notice.

In town for the Slap Shot 40th Anniversary Golf Tournament at St. Boniface Golf Club to raise funds and awareness for concussion research, prevention, and treatment were Dave Hanson, Jeff Carlson, and Denis Lemieux who all had prominent roles in the movie. The three men were in the concourse at Shaw Park to meet fans and sign autographs, but the issue of concussions was a topic at the forefront all week and at tonight's game.

"I can look back and tell you know that I had concussions," Hanson told Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun.

"The treatment then was sit on the bench, see how you feel later and if you're alert and you don't puke all night long, you're playing the next day."

While the treatment and recognition of symptoms of concussions has changed dramatically over the last forty years, the fact that Hanson and Carlson are in town to talk about concussions despite depicting the most violent hockey captured on film seems a little ironic. Knowing that Hanson and Carlson most likely suffered from concussions, however, is why both men are here to try to raise funds for the reasearch, prevention, and treatement of the injury.

"Forty years ago when the movie came out you weren't aware of concussions and the life-changing effects they can have," Hanson said. "Fortunately 40 years later we're all still together, we're alive and in good health. Some of us in this group have concussion symptoms to this day so it's great for us to have an opportunity to come out and be a part of this type of event and be involved."

The golf tournament happened earlier in the day, and it seems that everyone enjoyed the atmosphere while helping out a couple of great initiatives that deal in concussion research. All proceeds from the tournament went to support the StopConcussions Foundation and Shoot for a Cure (SFAC) campaign. The StopConcussions Foundation is a concussion/neurotrauma educational and awareness platform for all sports, to address the growing trend of concussions in sports. It is an educational portal that players, parents, coaches and officials can visit to seek information regarding concussions, with the goal of becoming more aware and ultimately safer individuals in their respective sports. SFAC is a fundraising campaign that aims to reduce the incidence of concussions as well as to fund research to find a cure for paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries.

Personally, this great event should happen more often as we see kids and teenagers diagnosed more often with concussions and concussion-like symptoms.

"We want kids to play sports," Kerry Goulet, a StopConcussions co-founder, told Wyman. "Hockey is so much more than the actual game itself and we want kids to experience that. However, there's a caveat to that. We've got to make sure that if you are playing sports, get educated. If you're a parent putting your kid in sport, just understand that cause, effect and consequences. If there are injuries, follow proper protocols to allow your young son or daughter or even yourself to come back and play and play safe. We want to mitigate the risk, we're not going to eliminate it."

In the end, raising money for research, treatment, and prevention of concussions is just makes sense. Brain injuries are often hidden, and the symptoms sometimes don't appear for hours. By learning more about the causes and treatment of these injuries and by investing in research for better protocols to identify concussions or concussion-like symptoms is a wise investment for everybody involved in sport.

As for the ballgame, the Winnipeg Goldeyes were hosting the Sioux City Explorers and found themselves down 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning when Wes Darvill drove in Shawn Pleffner on his double and the Explorers walked in a run on four pitches to pinch-hitter Casey Turgeon with the bases loaded to score David Bergin to make it a 3-3 game after seven innings. The next inning would see Pleffner drive in Reggie Ambercrombie with a single to right-field after Ambercrombie had singled and stole second base to put the Fish up 4-3 in their come-from-behind rally!

With closer Ryan Chaffee on the hill in the ninth inning, things got a little tense with the Explorers advancing a runner to third base with two outs, but Chaffee induced a ground ball off hitter LeVon Washington for the game's final out and his 19th save of the year on Hockey Night at the Ballpark!

Even in baseball, we're seeing more concussions, so I'm 100% behind having hockey stars - even fictional ones - speak out in support of concussion research. All sports have seen an uptick in concussion reporting as science gets better at diagnosing concussions, so more money for research and prevention is needed. Having members of Slap Shot speak candidly about concussions is one thing, but having them help raise money for research is entirely a good thing.

Well done to all involved on this night and at the golf tournament, and those Goldeyes jerseys are incredible!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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