In front of an enthusiastic Boston hockey crowd, alumni from the Boston University and Boston College hockey programs played in the Commonwealth Avenue Charity Classic at Walter Brown Arena Friday night and raised $55,000 for Compassionate Care ALS and the Travis Roy Foundation.
It was a game that brought smiles to the players and fans with 21 goals scored during 45 minutes of play and, more importantly, donations through ticket sales and raffles for hockey memorabilia to benefit both causes.
“Hockey has the tightest group of athletes that there is,” said Pat Mullane, a former BC hockey player who runs the Comm Ave Charity Classic. “It’s hard to get NHL players on the ice over the summer, especially on a Friday night. But a lot of them reached out to me and said they couldn’t wait to play. It goes to show that the hockey community is so willing to support one of their own [in Travis Roy as well as Pete Frates].”
Roy crashed awkwardly into the boards during his first shift for the Terriers in 1995, cracking two of his vertebrae and leaving him a quadriplegic. Since his injury, he has gone on to raise awareness and find a cure for spinal cord injury victims through the Travis Roy Foundation.
Frates, representing Compassionate Care ALS, was a Boston College pitcher who was diagnosed with ALS and has since raised awareness through the viral Ice Bucket Challenge.
Both of these men were a part of a ceremonial puck drop before the game, with Roy emphasizing the importance of the Boston hockey family and how much it means for a city to stand together against both ALS and spinal cord injuries.
“We are all here for Pete and Travis and how they inspire everyone,” said Nick Bonino, a former Terrier fresh off of a Stanley Cup victory with the Penguins. “We’re happy to all participate with their initiatives and what they do for the community, so it’s fun to play some hockey and raise money doing it.”
The game itself was everything a Boston hockey fan could have asked for, but BC fans went home a little happier than their BU counterparts, as the Eagles beat the Terriers 13-8.
Kevin Hayes started the scoring just 34 seconds into the game and stayed a consistent threat throughout the game with two goals and three assists. BU would go down 2-0 before fighting back in the last three minutes of the period and ending it with a buzzer beater from Sean Sullivan, one of the strongest defensive defensemen in the school’s 21st-century history.
The second period had its moments, ranging from a Danny O’Regan goal that sent the BU crowd back into a frenzy, to BC’s Dave Spina getting one past netminder Matt O’Connor that left those same fans speechless. The period ended with BU only down one after yet another buzzer beater, this time by Evan Rodrigues.
BC pulled away in the third, outscoring BU 7-3 in that period, including two empty-netters that all but sealed a victory for the maroon and gold.
“It doesn’t get any more fun than playing BC-BU,” said Johnny Gaudreau, the Calgary Flames’ 2015 Calder Award finalist who scored a hat trick for the Eagles. “Last year they took it to us, but this year thankfully we got the win. But it’s still a ton of fun for both teams, and it’s great to see guys you played with and played against.”
For the past and present Bruins on the ice, Shawn MacEachern, a Terrier who ended his career on the Bruins during the 2006 season and currently coaches local hockey, scored one and netted an assist. Meanwhile, Jay Pandolfo, known for his stellar college career at BU where he earned 167 points through 133 games, earned two assists. As for the Eagles, current Bruin Jimmy Hayes scored the first of two empty-netters late in the third and had two assists.
No matter the score, players from both sides were happy to play with former teammates, old heroes they looked up to, and of course, for legendary coaches Jerry York and Jack Parker.
“It brings back a lot of memories,” said Chris Higgins, who was part of BU’s 2009 national title team. “In the locker room and on the bench, guys were just talking about the good old days. [And Jack Parker] came in after one of the periods, joking around, and started yelling at us trying to pick it up.”
Parker, retired since 2013, was amazed with how well the event went, from gathering players to raising money, and was happy with how well tonight went for both foundations despite the loss.
“It’s amazing how many NHLers we have from BC and BU and how much fun it is watching them play,” said Parker. “And obviously, this was all for a good cause.”