Local talent to hit ice for good cause

Fans who turn out for this Friday night’s “Battle of the Badges” charity hockey game shouldn’t just expect a fun evening for a worthy cause. Chances are they’ll see Mike Allison change positions.
“I consider myself the secret weapon only if they put me in net. My big belly will stop all the pucks, you see,” joked Allison, a former NHL’er who will suit up for the local law enforcement ‘A’ team against the ‘B’ squad.
The main attraction, of course, will be appearances by former NHL stars Eddie Shack (guest referee) and hall-of-famer Marcel Dionne (celebrity player)—who both will be on hand for autographs during the second intermission.
Introductions and a ceremonial face-off will begin at 7 p.m. at the Ice for Kids Arena.
“Battle of the Badges” is its fourth tour of games. Last year, it helped raise $250,000 for various charities on the strength of 91 Canadian stops in front of 166,500 spectators.
Team ‘A’ will be coached by Gary “The Gangster” Vittie while the ‘B’ squad will be led by Tony “Sour Grapes” Lloyd.
Also among the tentative lineup of players are Doug Gibb and Mark Gadawski from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Mike Golding of the Fort Frances OPP, Joe Bobczynski from the Fort Frances Fire Department, Plum Byrnes from town bylaw enforcement department, and former pro player and current Borderland Thunder head coach Wayne Strachan.
Organizer Murray Alexander said the recent OPSEU strike has kept some potential players on the sidelines. “We may miss a few players because of the strike but we’re still expecting a good night,” he remarked.
To help shore up the missing bodies, some younger talent like Muskie player Tyson Dennis and former Muskie Adam McTavish will see some ice time.
But the older players should be able to hold their own.
“We’ve been playing all year in various leagues. We’ll be ready,” said Byrnes, who plays on the local Doug Kitowski Trucking women’s team.
“With Gary [Vittie] behind our bench, [winning] should not be a problem,” she chuckled.
A pick-up game involving local novice players will be featured during the first intermission and performances by the local Border Skate Club after the second period.
The local chapter of Northwest-ern Ontario Crime Stoppers will receive the funds raised from the game.
While this is the first time “Battle of the Badges” has made a stop in Fort Frances, law enforcement teams have played charity games in years past, including a tilt with an NHL old-timers team two years ago.
“It’s just a good time. Hopefully people will come out and help out a good cause,” said Allison. “That’s the whole thing about it. To see people in that profession in a different light.”
Tickets cost $15 each or $45 for a family pack of four.
They are available at Skates and Blades in advance or at the door the night of the game.