Boston Bruin heroes play in local fundraiser

Nancy MacPhee
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Summerside - It was an once-in-a-lifetime experience Rick Kennedy just couldn't pass up.

Kennedy got to lace up the skates and play alongside some of his hockey heroes Monday in a fundraiser for the Summerside Boys and Girls Club and Generation XX.

The Boston Bruins Alumni took on the P.E.I. Local Legends in a game played before more than 2,000 fans at Summerside's EastLink Arena.

Kennedy got to play on the alumni's team.

"It's an absolutely incredible experience. It's a chance of a lifetime to be with a lot of these all-stars."

Kennedy and the other Island players paid for the chance to play on the same ice surface as hockey legends Ray Bourque, Terry O'Reilly and Rick Middleton.

P.E.I.'s own Forbes Kennedy, who played four seasons with the Bruins, took part in the evening, coaching the alumni team. He was honoured by the Bruins' organization during the pre-game ceremony.

It was the Bruins alumni who opened up the scoring and led throughout the game, downing the P.E.I. Local Legends 11-7.

But to most who watched and even those on the ice the score didn't matter.

Tyler MacNeill of Richmond scored the first goal for the P.E.I. Local Legends.

"It was pretty easy, I just tapped it in. The puck was just sitting there," said the 23-year-old, who admitted he wasn't a Bruins fan. "It's for a good cause and it's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

C.J. Gallant was also on the P.E.I. Legends and helped with a couple of assists.

"I've been a Bruins fan all my life," said the Summerside native. "I grew up at the Boys and Girls Club when I was a kid. It sure didn't look like it does today."

A select number of fans had the chance to meet their idols, including Paul Dawson of Borden-Carleton. He and his sons were among the fans that visited the Bruins dressing room to get autographs and chat with the players.

"I'm a big time fan. Years ago we went to Bobby Orr's hockey school in Ontario. That was quite a lot of fun. I've been following Boston ever since," said Dawson. "It's great to see them here and see the people and meet them."

He was able to get Middleton's autograph and have a photo taken with O'Reilly.

"We talked about old times and I said if he (O'Reilly) was ever interested in seeing our life, packing potatoes and things like that, he could come to the farm."

O'Reilly was impressed with the arena, the fans and the atmosphere.

He said playing in fundraising games is a great way to stay connected to the game.

"Some of the most exciting and fun-filled years were when we were playing professional hockey. You form friendships and bonds that can be continued by continuing to play a game that we love," said O'Reilly. "We're all getting older and slower but we still like to throw the skates on and play the game. It's a win-win. Everybody on the ice is having fun playing and several charities are benefitting in every town that we go to."

Bourque said the welcome he and his teammates received by the Summerside and Island fans was overwhelming.

And helping the Boys and Girls Club is something near and dear to his heart.

"It's a great organization that really makes a difference in a lot of kids' lives. My daughter actually works at the Boys and Girls Club in Boston as an after school director," said the former Bruins captain. "We do a lot of different games for a lot of different causes and it's something that's always a lot of fun. We try to make a difference and have a lot of fun doing it."




Organizations: Bruins, Summerside Boys and Girls Club, P.E.I. Local Legends 11

Geographic location: Boston, Summerside, Borden-Carleton Ontario

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