PALMER — A small but enthusiastic crowd cheered on local hockey players making good use of the ice for a good cause at the MTA Events Center during the 17th annual Palmer Fire Firefighters Charity Hockey Game, March 27.
“It was a low-key event,” Aces alumni player William Wrenn said. “Anytime you get a group of guys that like hockey and it’s for a good cause, it’s gonna be a good event regardless of the turnout.”
This event serves as a fundraiser that fuels the volunteer Palmer firefighters’ training program, aiding their efforts to acquire much-needed equipment to better prepare for fires and other emergencies. It also fuels firefighters’ efforts supporting local youth programs during the school year, and providing gifts and toys to local families over the holiday season.
Each year, hockey alumni from the Alaska Aces, UAA Seawolves, and other organizations volunteer to help out with the event.
Event coordinator Gary Greene said it was a good event despite having two to three times smaller of an audience than usual as a result of the pandemic. He said that COVID-19 may have limited their turnout, but the generosity behind the cause was still intact, tallying $1,000 or more in donations.
“With COVID, we did the best we could… We just wanted to keep up the tradition. It’s very important. Especially during this time, we really appreciate the community support… We look forward to our 18th and hopefully, it’ll be a better, safer world for everybody,” Greene said.
Alaska Aces alumni players Tyler Currier and William Wrenn participated in this year’s event, acting as team captains for the two teams comprised of various community members from all walks of life, including a number of volunteer firefighters.
“They asked us to be team captains which was pretty cool, a pretty big honor… I liked being able to, and I think William would agree with me, give the puck to everyone, share the wealth, trying to get as many puck touches as you can, trying to get everyone involved in the game,” Currier said.
Currier said that he enjoyed the opportunity to get back on the ice to play the sport he loves for a cause worth getting behind.
“That’s the best part. I mean, that makes it easy to show up for something like that… It just made for a super fun environment,” Currier said. “The hockey community’s always a pretty tight-knit community and it’s cool just to be able to kinda plug and play out there and just be able to pick up where you left off, meet a bunch of great guys, and do it for a great cause. It’s super easy to get behind.”
Currier said that events like these help highlight hockey as a sport worth rallying behind, one that can connect Alaskans from across the state. Looking forward, he said the Alaskan hockey community is going to need a lot of community involvement, particularly by getting the next generation of hockey players on the ice to keep programs like the UAA Seawolves going.
“I think it’s super important that hockey is kind of a staple in the community. Especially in Alaska here, I think it’s imperative that we do whatever we can to keep hockey around,” Currier said.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at email@example.com