On August 13th, Brantford and area (emphasis on “area”) citizens gathered for some out-of-season hockey at the Wayne Gretzky Centre for a great cause.
Henrique drew the loudest ovation in the pre-game introductions as he dawned the white jersey equipped with number 14 as well as the “C” for captain. Opposing him for the opening draw was the 22 in red, Zac Dalpe, the other captain.
Helping Dalpe was another Burford product, former Bellville Bulls forward Randy Rowe. Last year Rowe played Sr. A for Dundas where he scored the clinching goal in overtime to win the Allan Cup.
Most players dressed were or are distinguished hockey players from the area, whom made it somewhere in the sport, from the NHL to major colleges to semi-pro Junior and Senior leagues. Other players were local MPs from nearby Ontario, but also ones from as far away as Nova Scotia. This group included Phil McColeman, the MP of Brantford, who helped host the event (pictured behind Walter Gretzky, above).
Also on hand were Brantford’s own favourite father Walter Gretzky, the man recognized earlier this year by Wilfrid Laurier University with an Hononuary Degree, as well as local long-time hockey guy, Bob Coyne, who many local players know as a power skating coach. Coyne was also recently nominated as Citizen of the Year in Brantford.
Also alongside Henrique on the white team was former Brantford Smoke star Paul Polillo. Polillo appeared to be sporting the very helmet he wore for said Smoke during the 1990s, an incredible feat in itself.
The puck dropped, and right off the bat, Henrique burst through the hapless defence, walked in and scored. All this occurred just eight seconds into the contest on a breakaway out of nowhere. With that, we were off with a bang.
The game turned into an offensive onslaught, as many exhibition games do. Team Henrique went up 6-0 very quickly, but Team Dalpe fought back admirably. Have mercy on the goalies as it went back and forth. With 10 minutes to play, the score was 10-8 in favour of Team Henrique.
Fittingly enough, the goal that really clinched it, the 14th goal of the game for Team Henrique, was scored by number 14, none other than Adam Henrique.
After the game, teams shook hands and gathered at centre ice for some announcements. It was announced Hockey Night in Brantford has raised over $220,000 the past three years. This year’s event was totaled at $102,000 raised for the Brant United Way.
“It was a good cause,” Dalpe said. “And I like being able to give back to the community.”
Henrique, although claiming he wants to keep things low-key, understandably, echoed similar sentiments.
Hockey Night in Brantford (and area) cannot wait to see how their young NHLers do this season – Henrique in New Jersey for the Devils, and Dalpe in Buffalo for his new team, the Sabres.
The NHL, actually, will be here before you know it. On Wednesday, October 8th, Montreal comes to Toronto. The next night is the real opening night for Brant County: Henrique visits Philadelphia to play the Flyers, while Dalpe’s debut in Buffalo goes down as the Sabres host the Columbus Blue Jackets – both games happening at the same time.