Champs for charity

Katie Kelly

Photo by Katie Kelly

The score was tied at 15-15 at the end of regulation and all that was left was a shoot out. This is one of the most exciting ending situations in hockey. That was the situation as the Blackhawks current and former players, the Chicago Stars as they were called, played in the Champs for Charity game on Friday October 25 for Ronald McDonald House in Chicago. With no advertisements made for this game, and only two weeks of word of mouth publicity, they were able to raise over $323,500.

From the very beginning the game felt different than any other hockey game. The charity game had brought an atmosphere of hope, strength and courage to the players and fans. A record attendance of 11,649 fans packed into the Allstate Arena. A 12-year-old girl from the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago belted out the national anthem that brought fans to their feet. Her amazing vocals set the tone for the rest of the night. Three young boys, all of whom suffer from various illnesses and also spend time at the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago, did the ceremonial puck drop. The players were on their feet cheering and clapping for the young boys who overcame their illnesses to attend the game.

The game began with three goals scored by the opposing World Team, which consisted of hockey players from other NHL teams who volunteered their time. Craig Anderson, goalie for the Chicago Stars, was off to a bad start letting the three shots get past him. Anderson used to play for the Chicago Blackhawks, but is now the goalie for the Ottawa Senators. It was obvious the Stars needed to step up their game. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toewsand Andrews Ladd answered the call; promptly scoring to tie up the game. Craig Adams and Kane again scored to make the score 5-3. When Ladd scored again, the announcer went behind the bench to get an exclusive interview about his goals. He asked Ladd who would get the first hat trick, him or Kane? Ladd graciously said Kane. After Patrick Sharp scored twice and Adam Burish scored, Kane did indeed get the first hat trick. This put the scoreboard into the double digits making it 10-11, World Team.

The charity game was played with very few rules; however every penalty made would result in a penalty shot. Unfortunately, a penalty was called on the Stars and resulted in the World Team’s goalie, Niklas Backstrom, goalie for the Minnesota Wild, taking a shot. Using his larger goalie stick, he put the puck past Anderson, giving the World Team the lead. Ladd was able to score against Backstrom to give the Stars another hat trick for the night.Jake Dowel also pushed the puck past Backstrom for his first goal of the game. With the score of 15-14, the Stars were down by one with only 1:22 left on the clock. Almost out of time, Toews passed to Kane for the equalizer. With only seconds left in the game, all the fans were on the edge of their seats. The last minute was an eternity for the teams and the fans. Every puck shot was blocked or saved, leaving the score tied at the end of regulation.

Instead of overtime, they went straight to a shoot out. The rules were the same as regulation shoot outs: best of five wins. Toews first show went far left, and Backstrom made the save. Bobby Ryan of the World Team snuck the puck past Anderson to score; 0-1 World Team. Patrick Sharp scored for the Stars, and Jordan Staal couldn’t get the puck past Anderson, leaving the game tied at 1-1. Kane scored next, but Ville Leino wasn’t so lucky.  Andrew Ladd and Jake Dowell were both unable to score. Kimmo Timonen scored for the World Team after the fourth round, tying the shoot out 2-2. As Daniel Carcillo took the ice for the World Team’s last chance, it boiled down to his shot. Anderson couldn’t make the save and the World Team won the game 16-15.

Although the Chicago Stars were disappointed with the loss, the arena remained enthusiastic about the amount of money they had raised. The president of the Ronald McDonald House Chicago was in attendance to collect the giant check the Chicago Blackhawks had made out to them. The cheering was deafening, and the children’s smiles spread from ear to ear. The essence of the cause put the whole night in perspective; this event was for the children.