Maple Ridge’s annual Hockey Classic charity game is growing and getting better every season.
“The calibre is going to be the best it has ever been,” organizer Ben Payne said of this Saturday’s game.
For three summers now he has created a reunion of some of the best hockey talent from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, as well as professional, minor pro, university and junior players from around the region.
The local boys get together and put on a game of shinny to benefit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.
The goal is to raise $10,000.
One of the big names added this year is Landon Ferraro. The 24-year-old B.C. native had a breakthrough season last year. He played 10 games with the Detroit Red Wings, then was claimed off waivers by Boston and finished the season there, with 10 points in 58 games as a Bruin.
He has big skates to fill, as the son of B.C.-born NHLer and current broadcaster Ray Ferraro. Ray played 1,258 games over 18 seasons, and played in an all-star game in 1992.
Back again are event headliners Victor Bartley and Brad Hunt – both NHL defencemen and Maple Ridge products.
Bartley was signed by the Minnesota Wild on the first day of free agency on July 1. The former Kamloops Blazer has played 121 NHL games, most with the Nashville Predators, and has put up a goal and 23 points. He was traded to the Montreal Canadiens last season, and played nine games there.
Hunt signed with the St. Louis Blues on July 1. The offensive defenceman has so far played in 21 games in the NHL, all with the Edmonton Oilers, and managed a goal and three points.
He has also been an AHL all-star, and last year had 13 goals and 41 points in 57 games with the Bakersfield Condors.
Other participants will include goaltender Tristan Jarry, a Delta resident who was drafted in the second round by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2013. Last season he played with the AHL Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in his first professional season. His record was 17-13-3 with five shutouts. The 21-year-old was called up to the Penguins to serve as a backup, but did not see action.
Richmond’s Glenn Gawdin, a 19-year-old Richmond native who was drafted in the fourth round by the St. Louis Blues in 2015 will also play. He plays with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos, and last year had 19 goals and 53 points in 53 games.
Payne said this year’s rosters for the game will be 80-90 per cent professional and drafted players, including European pros and college stars.
“This is our third annual, and it gets better every year.”
Payne almost lost his hockey career to battles with Crohn’s disease in 2013-2014, but is playing professionally in Europe.
He spent last season in Austria with EC Gunners Zirl , where he scored 22 goals and 48 points in 21 games. He also oversees the club’s youth program, as the coach of three teams, and he will return again next season.
“It’s not a hockey-first region, and they love having a Canadian there to coach their kids.”
This year’s Hockey Classic will include a meet-and-greet event with players. The doors open at Planet Ice on Saturday, July 16 at 5:45 p.m., and the meet-and-greet will happen from 6-6:30 p.m., where fans can have photos taken and get autographs.
A T-shirt and admission to the meet and greet will cost $20.
Warm-up will be at 6:30 p.m. and the game at 7 p.m.
General seating is by donation, and there is pub seating available.
Intermission events will include Huck-a-puck, raffle winners and prize giveaways.
Crohn’s and colitis are lifelong diseases. There are no cures.
They mean pain, urgent bathroom visits, hospital stays, surgeries and an increased risk of cancer. They affect school, work and relationships.
For young children, the diseases tend to be more aggressive.
The current roster includes professional, minor pro, university and junior players and alumni, many of them former players in the Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association system:
• Ben Payne – Austria;
• Vic Bartley – NHL, Minnesota Wild;
• Brad Hunt – NHL St. Louis Blues;
• Landon Ferraro – NHL, St. Louis Blues;
• Glenn Gawdin – NHL, St. Louis Blues;
• Tristan Garry – NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins;
• Ned Lukacevic – France , Los Angeles Kings draft pick (2004);
• Cody Campbell – France;
• Jeff Martens – ECHL;
• Tim Daley – ECHL ;
• Marcello Ranallo – Italy;
• Marcus Sommerfeld – Germany;
• Max Grassi – Germany;
• Mike Piluso – Germany;
• Connor Redman – WHL Vancouver Giants alumni;
• Connor Sanvido – WHL/CIS;
• Brian Kang – NCAA;
• Kurt Sonne – NCAA;
• Justin Georgeson – CIS;
• Marco Carotenuto – Ridge Meadows Flames alumni; (captain)
• Dylan Silvestri – Ridge Meadows Ramrods;
• Mark Keates – Ridge Meadows Ramrods (captain).
• Mark McMillan -AHL ( 4th-round draft pick Montreal Canadians);
• Matt Pope – Austria.