Former Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames players, along with community members, laced up for a good ol’ game of outdoor hockey in central Alberta.
“Well the first thing you have to do is find an NHL-sized rink in the middle of nowhere,” joked organizer Neil Brown. “We have the Saddledome boards here, that were purchased a few years ago. So the idea came from behind that. Why not host an NHL-type alumni game?”
Brown reached out to the Flames and Oilers alumni organizations, who were happy to help. “I believe the words were ‘forget the weather man, lets do this thing.'”
“We’ve got a beautiful setting, we’ve got trees in the background – you can’t ask for anything more Albertan than that.”
Edmonton Oilers alumni included Dave Lumley, Dave Semenko, Jason Strudwick, Fernando Pisani, Bruce Hardy, Craig Topolnisky, and the team was coached by Al Hamilton.
Calgary Flames alumni included Dana Murzyn, Jamie Macoun, Kelly Kisio, Martin Sonnenberg, Charlie Simmer, Curtis Glencross, with Dennis Polonich coaching.
Other players paid to have a spot on the roster.
The Falun Outdoor Classic on Saturday was to support both the construction of a permanent rink and to give funds to healthcare research.
“So P.L.A.C.E. is the people who run the rink. It’s the Pigeon Lake Athletic Cultural and Educational Society. Their goal is to make this an outdoor rink, but put a roof on it eventually so they don’t have to shovel snow,” explained Brown, who said funds will also go to the University of Alberta Foundation for Crohn’s and Colitis research. “So some of those proceeds will go to the U of A hospital as well.”
Brown said they didn’t have a specific fundraising goal in mind, but rather just wanted to raise as much money as possible and have fun.
“My first lap around the ice, I was a little bit emotional. It’s pretty cool to see all these guys having fun, all the camaraderie, and the jokes are flying. It’s great. It’s a lot of fun.”
Falun is located southwest of Edmonton, near Pigeon Lake.