Former Maple Leaf Pros Taking on Locals at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga


Published December 23, 2016 at 5:50 pm

Wendel Clark

If you’re a nostalgic Leafs fan (and if you’re looking for a really great last-minute stocking stuffer), you’ll probably be thrilled to hear that Mississauga will be home to a Maple Leaf alumni game early in the New Year.

The event which is being organized by the Streetsville Rotary Club, is set to kick off at 4:45 p.m. at the Hershey Centre on Jan. 7, 2017. The event will feature such big name greats as Wendel Clark, Gary Leeman and Al Lafrate.

But while the idea of game full of iconic players is appealing enough, the event also boasts a charitable component and attendees are eligible to win some pretty exciting prizes.

“The idea is for us to raise money for three charities, which is different from what Rotary usually does,” says Rotary representative John Kucera.

The game will be raising funds in support of Erinoak Kids (an organization that works with children with a range of disabilities), Trillium Health Partners and Heart House Hospice.

“We’re raising funds by selling tickets to the event, but the bulk of the money will be raised from sponsorship. We have the Maple Leaf alumni forming a team and people and organizations will sponsor players or the opposing team.”

The team set to face off against the former pros will be made up of a mix of non-professional players (including five women). The alumni team will also participate in a relay and skill-testing competition against Erinoak Kid players, who will be using ice sledges (all participants have disabilities affecting the use of their legs)

“Some of the alumni will play in a relay and skill competition against sledge hockey players and we expect the alumni to make fools of themselves,” says Rotary representative David Bull. “We want to demonstrate the good work that Erin Oaks does and [remind people that] we shouldn’t place a stigma on someone with a disability.”

Game organizers are also hoping to boost the profile of female athletes by welcoming five women to test their skills against the alumni team.

While the game is definitely the main event, guests will get to enjoy a few other perks as well.

For $5.65 (children under three are free), guests can take part in a pre-game skate with the alumni that will kick off at 5:00 p.m. and run until 5:50 p.m.

In terms of presentation, the game will–despite the inclusion of non-professional players–feel like a bona fide NHL game with the presence of announcers who will provide running commentary throughout the night. Fans of local team the Steelheads will also be able to meet players during the event, as they’ll be on hand doing meet and greets.

There will also be a silent auction, door prizes and other fun giveaways.

“We’ve also got 10,000 Boston Pizza vouchers to give away that offer a free kid’s meal,” says Bull. “In addition, we have an X-Box, gift vouchers and hats from Microsoft to give away as door prizes. We’ve got one car dealership who has given vouchers so anyone can buy two wiper blades for price of one.”

Bull also said that memorabilia will be available, including hockey sticks signed by Johnny Bower. A stormtrooper outfit will also be available for silent auction and a lucky attendee can also get his or her hands on an authentic Mitch Lerner Maple Leaf jersey.

Although Mayor Bonnie Crombie was originally slated to drop the puck, she will no longer be able to attend and organizers are hoping another mayoral figure can make an appearance.

“We’re trying to get Hazel to drop the puck,” says Bull.

Although the game isn’t until January, there’s still lots of time to buy tickets online through either Ticketmaster or the Hershey Centre.

“Basically, this is a great stocking stuffer and a great night out for the family,” says Bull. “You get added value with a free Boston Pizza kid’s meal and you can win great door prizes. If you want to get away after the Christmas hustle and bustle, you can watch the battle of the sexes at the NHL level. It’ll be a fun night out.”

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