Hockey marathon will include game with former N.Y. Rangers
Most of the details are the same — the event runs continuously for 72 hours; players must take a specified break (no fewer than six hours) between games; there are no referees; and several chosen charities receive the proceeds.
But when the fourth Play For Purpose hockey marathon takes place next week (May 4-7) at the Winter Garden Ice Arena in Ridgefield, one significant change will represent a marquee addition.
Several former New York Rangers, including Hockey Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert and Ron Duguay, are going to play a one-hour benefit game (during a three-hour window) against Play For Purpose board members and others who have been among the event’s biggest donors.
“It’s a new wrinkle that we’re excited about,” said Ridgefielder Ken Peters, the driving force behind Play For Purpose’s inception in 2014 and a current board member. “In previous years, some of the Rangers alumni came and did an open skate with kids and signed autographs, but this is the first time they are playing an actual game.”
In addition to Gilbert and Duguay, an analyst for Rangers television broadcasts on the MSG Network, former NHL players Adam Graves, Brian Mullen, Stefan Matteau, Andre Dore, Tom Laidlaw, and Chris Kotsopoulos are confirmed to play for the Rangers alumni. John Amirante, who sang the National Anthem at Rangers games in Madison Square Garden for 35 years, will perform the song before the Rangers alumni game, which takes place between 5 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 6.
“The Rangers alumni have gotten more involved in community outreach and helping charities,” said Peters. “So they called us and we presented to them, and they said they wanted to play a benefit game as part of this year’s Play For Purpose.”
Proceeds from the Rangers alumni contest go to Southern Connecticut Storm Special Hockey, which teaches skating and hockey skills to children and young adults with developmental disabilities.
This year’s Play For Purpose event begins on Thursday night, May 4, and runs 72 hours straight until ending Sunday night, May 7. Eight teams (some with rotating players) compete in three-hour games around the clock. One hundred and eighty-four players, ranging from ages 16 to 75, participated last year.
“It keeps growing in terms of popularity and money raised for charities,” said Peters, who got the idea for the game in 2012 while working in Calgary, Alberta, and attending a benefit hockey marathon that ran for a Guinness Book World Record of 246 hours and raised $1.7 million for a local children’s hospital. “Over the first three years, we have raised more than $159,000 (including a high of $68,250 in 2016). It’s been more successful than any of us imagined. We want it to keep going.”
Notes: Proceeds from this year’s Play For Purpose benefit the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center; Pets for Vets (through ROAR in Ridgefield); the Connecticut Food Bank; and the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center.
A silent auction, including New York Rangers memorabilia, takes place May 6 from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Winter Garden.
For more information, or to register as a player, visit playforpurpose.org.