It will be Special Olympics Big Ticket Day this Sunday when the North Bay Battalion hosts the Niagara IceDogs in Ontario Hockey League action.
The game, a 2 p.m. start between the Central Division rivals in which the Troops will wear red skate laces to mark the occasion, continues the partnership between the OHL and Special Olympics Ontario to bring together OHL clubs and law enforcement agencies to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics.
Phil Ercolani, the Battalion’s senior manager of marketing, sales and communications, said there will be numerous prizes presented by the Battalion and community partners of Special Olympics and the North Bay Police Service. In addition, donations will be accepted.
Stan Butler, director of hockey operations and head coach, is a longtime supporter of Special Olympics as his daughter, Sara, has taken part in many of the organization’s events. During its time in Brampton, the Battalion hosted two neutral-site exhibition games as fundraisers for Durham Dragons Special Hockey.
“She’s been heavily involved with Special Olympics since she was a young girl,” said Butler. “She’s participated in figure skating, soccer, softball, hockey and paddling. Special Olympics has been great for her, and it’s great that it gives a lot of kids who love sports an opportunity to play in an environment where they feel safe and secure and they can get the most out of it.”
Merv Shantz, a North Bay police constable, said the game is an opportunity to showcase city athletes looking to participate in the 2015 Special Olympics Winter Games, to be held in North Bay from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 next year. More than 400 athletes are expected to take part.
“We’re looking forward to the Battalion game in order to raise awareness for Special Olympics Ontario,” said Shantz, who is to manage the Winter Games.
“This will be a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of our local athletes, some of whom will be competing in the Winter Games. What a great way to bring together our community, our sports fans and our local Special Olympic athletes.”
Memorial Gardens is among the venues for the Games.
“The Battalion has been working with Special Olympics Ontario and the North Bay Police Service since the beginning to bring this event to the Gardens and, with the community support, it will be a great success,” said Shantz.
The Niagara game is the third of the week for the Battalion, which hosts the Barrie Colts at 7 p.m. Thursday and visits the Mississauga Steelheads at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Tickets can be purchased online at battalionhockey.com, at Battalion Headquarters on the second floor of Memorial Gardens or by phone at (705) 495-8603, extension 2700.
Submitted to BayToday.ca