Last year, the best hockey players from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, headlined by defenceman Victor Bartley of the Nashville Predators, met in a summer reunion game of shinny that raised $5,000 for charity.
This year, they’re planning to revisit that popular game and are adding a golf tournament.
Bartley and his good friend Ben Payne, who in 2013-2014 missed a year of professional hockey due to his battles with Crohn’s disease, are once again putting on the events to benefit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.
The charity hockey game will take place Saturday, June 13 at 7:45 p.m. at Planet Ice in Maple Ridge.
The golf tournament will be held on June 19, with an 11:30 a.m., shotgun start, at the Meadow Gardens course.
Confirmed to return this year are Bartley, who suited up for 37 NHL regular season games with the Nashville Predators this year, and Brad Hunt, who got into 11 games with the Edmonton Oilers. Hunt also had 51 points in 62 games with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL.
Other local hockey players taking part are from the Ridge Meadows Flames of the PJHL, and others from the BCHL, college teams and the pro ranks.
Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey alumni born in 1985 to ’88 are the mainstay of the event.
“We’re all old friends,” said Payne. “And there are younger players who have done this association proud.”
The rosters are still being filled out, and will be announced in the days leading up to the game. Admission is by donation.
Anyone interested in registering for the golf tournament should visit www.golfandhockeyclassic.com.
Payne said organizers of the golf event are offering dinner-only tickets because they can accommodate just 144 golfers, but 300 in the banquet room.
The event will include a silent auction of NHL memorabilia and prizes, along with chipping and longest drive contests.
“It should be a great day,” said Payne, who played pro hockey in Germany this past season.
Health problems behind him, he led the fourth division in scoring, putting up 26 goals and 51 points in 16 games with the Zweibrucken Hornets.
“It was one of the best seasons I’ve had in a long time,” he said. “Now that I’m healthy, I realize how low my energy level was before.”
Prior, Payne had 61 points in 98 NCAA games, and 79 points in 129 BCHL games.
This past season will not only be a springboard to better things for him, it was also a great hockey experience.
In addition to playing, Payne was also contracted to coach the club’s younger players. The team would pack 1,900 fans in the team’s home arena to watch a game on a Sunday night, then Payne would be on the ice coaching some of the young fans, aged 6-15, during the week.
“Germany is obviously not a hockey-first country. They were very appreciative of me coming in there and helping the youth” he said.
“I loved Germany and I loved the culture. It was a great experience, and I was able to learn the language.”
At 26 and healthy again, he feels like a hockey prospect, determined to go as far as his talent will take him.
“I’m not done playing. I still have some stuff to prove.”
• More sponsors are being sought for the summer events, and anyone interested can contact Susan Hampton at email@example.com.