To say Saturday’s Chicago Hockey Charity Classic went well would be a huge understatement. A loud and boisterous crowd turned out at the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Chicago’s western suburb of Geneva, IL, home of the USHL’s Chicago Steel. They were treated to an entertaining All-Star game featuring a number of diverse players. Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane and Vinnie Hinostroza headed up the two competing teams. They were joined by many others, including three young women from the USA Women’s Hockey Olympic Team, and two members of the Paralympic ice-sledge hockey team.
All proceeds from this event went to benefit Special Olympics of Chicago. Income was raised from sponsorships of the players, ticket sales, a jersey auction, and raffles. The final total came to $139, 437, which far exceeded the original goal of $100,000!
Yours truly was in attendance, and thanks to the fine folks at The Chicago Steel, I had a press pass to boot! Below are some of the biggest highlights from the outing.
Patrick Kane Puts on a Show
It goes without saying that the involvement of a mega-superstar like Kane was incredibly helpful towards this event’s success. Everyone wants to see Kaner up close and personal, on a small stage. He didn’t disappoint, assisting on the first two goals for his team in the opening minutes of the game. This got things off to a fast and furious start. He treated the crowd to his famous spin-o-rama move later in the game, as well as a snipe of a goal that was slightly reminiscent of his 2010 Stanley Cup winner over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Kane was awarded a penalty shot late in the game, and of course, he scored.
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) August 5, 2017
But then he decided to take a different approach in the shootout.
Umm… that's an unusual dangle technique by Patrick Kane. pic.twitter.com/Xx0lu7HXPE
— Madeline Kenney (@madkenney) August 5, 2017
Yeah, Kane definitely gave the fans a treat.
Vinnie Hinostroza Is a Class Act
He’s only 23 years old, but he showed maturity and class throughout this event. “The most important thing is everyone’s having fun. It’s a great turnout and a lot of money’s being raised for a great cause,” said Hinostroza during intermission.
He scored a goal for his team during the game, but it was off the ice where he really impressed. While most of the other players were chatting it up in the locker room after the contest, Hinostroza came out to the common area between the two locker rooms to mingle with the crowd. He signed autographs and posed for several pictures with a long line of young ladies.
He also thanked everyone involved.
Daniel Carcillo Is Multi-Tasking
Carcillo had to take a break from Lollapalooza to come out to the charity event. He tweeted on Thursday the shows he was at, and was right back at it Saturday night.
But he took the time to make it out for some fun hockey. It was obvious he was happy to be re-united with his friend and former teammate, Kane. As a matter of fact, he scored the first goal of the game with Kaner assisting.
Late in the game, tough guy Carcillo, USA Olympiad Megan Bozek, and Reid Simpson got into some sort of “tussle” along the boards. It had everyone in the stands laughing.
Kendall Coyne Delivers a Message
First things first, USA Olympiad Coyne is a little spitfire of a thing. Standing at only 5-foot-2, she looked awfully tiny compared to all the men. But she didn’t let that hold her back, as she contributed a goal for Team Hinostroza.
Perhaps it’s because I’m female, but in my mind, Coyne stole the show during intermission interviews. She delivered an inspirational message to young girls.
“Whatever it is, follow your dreams,” said Coyne. “Don’t let anyone tell you differently.”
She further discussed how people told her she was weird to pursue hockey; that she should be figure skating instead. She said it was a challenge, and she needed to say true to what she wanted to do. She hopes others can learn from that.
- The two USA Paralympic ice-sledge champions, Kevin McKee and Josh Pauls, were quite fun to watch. They had a friendly competition during a stoppage of play where they raced each other around the rink. It was truly amazing to realize what kind of upper-body strength these guys must have in order to propel themselves at such speeds. It was also interesting to see how they control the puck by passing it to themselves under their sleds.
- Ian Cole of the Pittsburgh Penguins talked about his team’s desire to win three consecutive Stanley Cups. But none of us here in Chicago really want to hear about that, so let’s move on.
- After two periods, Team Hinostroza and Team Kane were both tied at 11 goals apiece. Yes, that’s a lot of goals. But the show wasn’t over just yet! A six-round shootout determined Team Hinostroza the victor, by a final score of 14-12. For more details on the game, you can refer to this article by Madeline Kennedy from the Chicago Sun-Times.
What It’s Really All About
Saturday’s event featured entertaining hockey, comradery among peers, and raising money for a great cause. But the real reason for the day was summed up best by Kevin Magnuson, board president of Special Olympics Chicago.
“Our motto is ‘Athletes Helping Athletes’ and today was an awesome example of that,” Magnuson said. “I loved the fact that there were so many families here…Introducing young children to Special Olympics like I was introduced as a young child through my dad, breeds tolerance and inclusion, and that’s what Special Olympics is all about.”
“People came together”, he continued. “It’s Chicago. That’s what we do here. We rally around each other. Especially the Chicago hockey community, we’ve always been tight. And then the growth the last ten years of the Blackhawks’ success. Here it is. You’re seeing it firsthand. How much people love hockey.”
Magnuson, event chairman Topher Scott, and fellow organizer Brian Keane hope they can make the Chicago Hockey Charity Classic an annual event. Considering this year’s success, that shouldn’t pose a problem. I, for one, look forward to it!