For nearly a decade, police officers and firefighters from across the Granite State have been facing off in ice hockey exhibition matches to raise money for Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
On Sunday, March 19, at 3 p.m., the two departments will renew their friendly rivalry at the SNHU Arena in Manchester during the 10th annual Battle of the Badges Hockey Classic.
Tom Gauthier, community relations and event coordinator for CHaD, said just over $200,000 is raised from the hockey version of the Badges Classic each year from a combination of player sponsorships, ticket sales and charitable donations. About $1.7 million has been raised from the game since its 2008 debut, and he said players are eyeing a goal to reach $2 million this year.
“Each player on each team commits to raising a minimum of $1,500, and they might do that by selling tickets to their family or friends,” Gauthier said. “People can also buy special red or blue wristbands to support their favorite team directly.”
The Hockey Classic is one of CHaD’s largest annual fundraising events, and to mark 10 years, several “alumni” team players who have participated in past games over the course of the game’s history will be recognized.
Players that made each team have been practicing at the SNHU Arena each month since December ahead of the big game. Among them are seven skaters who will play in their first Badges championship.
Retired Manchester Police Lt. Pete Favreau and Dover Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Mickey Drouin will resume their previous roles as captains of their respective teams. Also playing this year is Dover Police Officer Chris Plummer, the game’s all-time leading scorer with 21 points, and Nashua Police Officer Mike Dore, who has raised more than $100,000 over eight years as the leading fundraiser.
“Hockey certainly is one of the more finely tuned sports, but you’d be surprised to see that the teams are made up of some generally pretty good players,” Gauthier said. “A lot of the guys that make the teams either used to play or still play in men’s hockey leagues.”
He said the structure of the game will be not unlike that of a normal Manchester Monarchs game, complete with all of the fun features and other games between periods and after the game is over.
“There will be different factors and tidbits going on both in the stands and on the ice throughout the course of the game,” he said. “There will be sign-making stations and photo stations, and we’ll also have some CHaD patients get a chance to pair with some of the players and cheer them on. … The kids will get to meet with the players on ice and help launch T-shirts in the crowd, so that should be fun.”
Team Police has won more games in the Classic’s history, including a 12-5 win over Team Fire last year.
“For the most part, the games have been pretty close, but I’m sure after last year’s, Team Fire has got some extra motivation,” Gauthier said.