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Hockey night in North Bay

Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota drops the puck. Photo by Todd Vandonk.

Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota drops the puck. Photo by Todd Vandonk.

NHL alumni and North Bay OPP officers tied up the laces Friday at Memorial Gardens to raise money for the Special Olympics and provide a family show on a night when the score didn’t matter.

“It’s great to be involved in a charity like this. Law enforcement groups have been great by starting these games. We try to help out any way we can, and it’s part of giving back,” said former Toronto Maple Leaf Gary Leeman, one of the participants in the event.

With the NHL season looking like a distant hope, it was a night for the family to share popcorn and soda and take in some entertaining hockey. Like the Harlem Globetrotters, NHL alumni tossed pies and buckets of water at the opposing team and ended the game with both benches clearing for a free-for-all.

A skills competition including target practice, a shoot-out, and a team relay was held during intermission.

“Great show,” said fan Shannon Gutoskie.

“Alumni Dave Hutchison really had the kids in the crowd going.”

Leeman, a 50-goal scorer with the Leafs, didn’t seem too rusty, and the same could be said for a couple of other alumni team members.

“It’s great to be out here with these guys. They’re going half speed and still making us look silly,” said OPP officer Shawn Fougere, whose team was called the Law Enforcers.

It seemed as if the estimated 1,000 fans left Memorial Gardens with smiles of their faces.

And one has to believe they forgot about the NHL lock-out on this night and realized they had spent $16 on a ticket for a good cause and an excitement loaded game.