Battles On Ice: Hockey Teams Up To Support First Responders

After the horrific events that occurred on Patriots Day in Boston, Massachusetts, a number of individuals and organizations rushed to the aid of victims and various others affected by the Boston Marathon Bombings. Tragedy dominated the days and weeks following the bombings, but the city of Boston, as well as its first responders, proved to be a staple of resilience during the aftermath of the events.

While the efforts of some that assisted in the aftermath of the crisis might have gone unheralded, the Boston Bruins took a page out of their city’s book by rallying to get to the Stanley Cup Final. Even though the Bruins gave an inspiring, and much needed, effort to their city by battling to get within two wins of Lord Stanley’s Cup, various organizations have still felt the need to laud and remember the efforts of first responders with humanitarian efforts.

Cue Russian American Foundation

The Russian American Foundation was established in the 1990s with the purpose of helping bridge the cultural gap between Russia and America as well as helping Russian communities in the United States to preserve their heritage and language. While the Russian American Foundation has hosted a slew of events that have promoted a general acceptance of Russian culture and heritage, the organization teamed up with a number of other sponsors to not only host two entertaining hockey events, but to help the spouses and children of fallen firefighters.

Eighteen other sponsors and friends teamed up to help the Russian American Foundation host the “Battles On Ice” events, and the collective effort sure didn’t fail to impress. Not only were the organizers of this event focused on providing the Russian-American community with an entertaining event for the celebration of the eleventh annual Russian Heritage Month, they were also intent on creating an atmosphere that promoted positive interactions between Russian and American entities that had teamed up to support the valiant efforts of firefighters across the world.

Legends Of Hockey Don’t Lose A Beat

Pavel Bure Canucks
Pavel Bure certainly didn’t lose a beat after retiring from hockey as he potted five goals against the First Responders. (Hakan Dahlstrom, Flickr)

For the event on Tuesday, June 25th, 2013, the “Legends of Hockey” teamed up against members of the New York and Boston Fire Departments as well as the EMERCOM firefighters from Russia. Even though the event featured a plethora of former NHL stars playing for the “Legends” side, the firefighters on the other side of the ice sure didn’t let that affect their mood or style of play.

Both sides received great ovations from the lively crowd as they were introduced, but once the opening puck dropped on the ice surface it was all competition between the two teams. Igor Larionov, sans helmet, looked determined from the opening draw as the center displayed just why he should be considered a “Legend of Hockey” by showing off his crisp passing and skating abilities. However, the first period would belong to another former-NHL Russian superstar as Pavel Bure netted a hat trick a little over eleven minutes into the opening frame.

While Bure illustrated that he could still snipe a shot from various spots on the ice, Alexei Yashin provided Bure with an unlikely Islanders-Rangers feed all night as he assisted on many of Bure’s goals. Even though the First Responders team got on the board with less than two minutes left in the first period, the “Legends of Hockey” team certainly controlled the pace and tempo of the game with alert passing and capitalization on scoring opportunities.

The second period wouldn’t feature as much scoring as the first, but Alexei Zhamnov managed to get on the board before the middle frame closed out with a score of 6-2. Despite the fact that the second period didn’t feature much scoring, the final period of the night would give fans something to cheer about as the “Legends of Hockey” exploded for seven goals in the final eighteen minutes. The legends’ assault was once again led by Pavel Bure as the forward scored his fourth and fifth goals of the contest. The first responders would answer with three tallies of their own, but when the final buzzer sounded a score of 13-5 (in favor of the legends) flashed brightly on the Aviator Sports Complex’s scoreboard.

Whatever the final score might have been, the players on either side did not let the result of the contest overshadow its purpose. Both sides knew what they were playing for, and both sides gave it their all in a show of respect and support for those that serve the general public by putting their lives at risk every single day.

A Most Honorable Effort

Regardless of the result of the “Legends of Hockey” vs. First Responders game, it was plain to see that both sides enjoyed the event as well as the company of one another. The result of this hockey game simply did not matter. What mattered was that the event was established to benefit a good cause – one that Russian and American hockey players, fans, and firefighters could band together in for the support of others.

Perhaps this type of sentiment was transcended to the crowd as the fans in the stands cheered loudly for each goal that either side scored. There was no ill will or negative feelings attributed to either side, just a great amount of hockey fans that united to support the efforts of first responders at home as well as overseas. For one night, the scoreboard in the Aviator Sports Complex didn’t just indicate a winner and a loser, it pointed to a unified effort by fans, players, and firefighters in support of the brave and heroic efforts of some of the world’s finest first-responder units.