“Last year we raised $2,000.00, this year we raised $6,500.00, and that’s from donations from all our sponsors. It was a huge undertaking, but we’re pretty stoked out little league did that. We hope it just keeps growing.”
said Reid McDonald, Eagle River Hockey League President before the ERHL All-Star hockey game. Continuing, he said, “It was stressful, it seems like you ready. But then it gets toward the last couple weeks, then it’s go time. But, Steve (Glines) and I work well under pressure, so it all worked out.”
Steve Glines, Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations of the Eagle River Hockey League (ERHL along McDonald and a host of dedicated volunteers pulled off an extraordinary fund-raising event at the Harry J. McDonald on January 12, 2019, raising $6,500.00 to benefit Special Olympics Alaska.
The event billed as the 2nd Annual All-Star Extravaganza lived up to its name. It was high energy and an upbeat in the rink before the main event. One would expect no less at an All-Star game featuring best players in the league, some who had even played professionally.
This year a beer garden hosted by Jalapeno’s and food by Garcia’s Cantina were a huge success.
The smell of Mexican food drifted throughout the arena and fans crowded the beer garden opposite the seating area.
Bob Lester, long time Alaska Aces public address announcer pumped more energy into the crowd, his familiar voice announcing the skills competition and winners of the different events.
The players were divided into two conferences, Northern Conference sponsored by Pizza Man and Southern Conference sponsored by Garcia’s Cantina. The winners of the skills competition are:
Fastest Skater: Kyle Johnson 13:84 (South)
Hardest Shot: Jake Wilkens 93 MPH (North)
Shot Accuracy: Daniel Ramsey 4 out of 6 (North)
Breakaway Challenge: Blake Martin 3 for 3 (South)
Team Relay: Northern Conference 1:46
And the overall winner of the skills competition is, North 3 – South 2
With the skills competition completed, it was time for the main event.
After Ann McDonald did a beautiful job singing the National Anthem, Glines and McDonald presented an oversized check to representatives of Special Olympics Alaska for the amount of $6,500.
As customary for All-Star games, there was a ceremonial puck drop. Special Olympian Alex Steinborn did the honors with team captains, Justin Frechione for the North and Matt Geurts for the South.
The much-anticipated game started off with energy and enthusiasm. The first goal of the game came about midway through the first period. Showing his talented stick handling skills, Chugiak High School grad, Daniel Casey scored unassisted for the Northern Conference. The North’s scoring continued ending the period, 3-1.
Mustang Hockey Association U-8 teams entertained the crowd with a short scrimmage during the first intermission.
The second period was a back-and-forth affair with the goalies from both teams making some acrobatic saves much to the delight the crowd. The South team showed some resilience, made some gains, but was still one goal behind. The period ended with the North up, 4-3.
Those in attendance were treated to an outstanding figure skating routine by Nadiri Brooks who took to the ice and performed during the second intermission.
In the third period, the teams combined for five goals. At one point trading goals 23 seconds apart. About mid-way through the third, South came on strong. With 8:55 remaining in regulation, former Chugiak High School standout and Alaska Aces forward, Matt Geurts found the back of the net to tie the game 6-6. A pair of roughing penalties were called as the emotions ramped up both teams.
The game went into overtime, playing NHL rules of three-on-three.
Emotions ran high both on the ice and in the stands. South Conference goalie, Joey Lindquist turned away five shots keeping his team in the game and revving up the cheering crowd. Just when everyone thought the extra period would again end in a tie and go to a shootout, South’s Kyle Johnson scored on a shifty goal line play assisted by Geurts with only :30 remaining ending the exciting match-up.
Northern Conference – 6
Southern Conference -7
“It was a success. A few things we could do differently and a few more seats to fill, but all in all it was awesome. We got rave reviews from fans, sponsors, players and most importantly Special Olympics. They were blown away. Meeting the athlete Alex and having my brother Sean on the ice to recognize his past accomplishments made it worth all the hours to put it together,” related a very happy Steve Glines. “I’d do it again in a second, and I will.”