CHESTERMERE – In May of next year, the Chestermere recreation centre will be overrun by hockey enthusiasts during a unique 11-day event.
The 2012 Oilympics Hockey Marathon will feature a non-stop hockey game that will run from May 6 to 16. The event is focused on raising funds for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.
The Oilympics consists of a group of oil-patch workers who like to play hockey and get together to raise money for local charities in Calgary, Airdrie, Okotoks and Cochrane. They have been doing so for 21 years.
Chestermere resident and organizer Alex Halat said that because the Oilympics group hadn’t organized anything since July, that it was time to do a big event.
He said that the motivation came from his friend Lyle Marshall, who’s young daughter, Diamond, is battling cancer. Diamond captured the hearts of many Calgarian’s when she was able to greet William and Kate when their plane landed in Calgary this past July.
“Lyle is the type of guy who always wants to give back to the hospital because of what they’ve done for Diamond, so it was a bit of a no-brainer,” Halat said. “Doing the world’s longest hockey game isn’t an issue because the oil-patch is all hockey players. So we’re going to do it and raise a couple bucks for charity, and it’s all in honor of Diamond.”
Halat said that not only will they be giving to the Children’s Hospital, but they will also be giving back locally. He said that five per cent of all the proceeds raised will stay in the community, going to Chestermere Minor Hockey.
The idea to go forward with the longest hockey game came from Halat himself, who heard that some members of the Canadian women’s national team participated in breaking the record this past summer in Burnaby, BC. The previous record is 244 hours, and Halat said that they hope to set a new record of 254 total hours. So, the game will wrap up around 7 p.m. on May 16.
Details for the kickoff of the game are being kept under lock-and-key, but Halat said that some big names should be in attendance to help drop the puck, sing the anthem and officially kick things off.
“Things have been falling into place remarkably easy,” Halat said of organizing the event. “We haven’t even done up an official press release or started marketing it yet, and we’ve got all kinds of people who want to be involved.”
Halat said that the Chestermere Recreation Centre didn’t hesitate to offer the arena for their use, and that the CRCA has been amazing. He also said that they’ve already got people on board to volunteer, and that they’ve almost got a full roster of players.
“Forty is our maximum number, and we’ve already got 35 players,” he said. “We didn’t think we’d have this kind of response or that amount of guys willing to commit that much time that quickly. It’s awesome.
“The sponsorship is already rolling in too. It’s been amazing considering we haven’t even really put it out to the public yet.”
Halat said that each team will consist of 20 players, who will play five-on-five. He said that they haven’t worked out the details in terms of how long a player’s shift will be, but he estimates that they’ll probably play for around four hours at a time, and then be off from six to eight hours before starting again.
Halat said that if a player goes down, he can’t be replaced, so that they’re making sure everyone is physically able to play ahead of time.
“The last thing you want is to be down two or three guys in a 24-hour-a-day game,” he said.
Every player will wear a jersey with a number, but it will not be their own name across their back. Instead, they will wear the names of friends or family who have been affected by cancer.
“When you see the players go out, you’re going to see a variety of names from grandparents, to neices, to brothers, to friends,” he said. “Everyone is playing in someone’s honor for this.”
Halat said that 100 per cent of the proceeds from the game will go to charities, but the game is all in honor of Diamond Marshall.
The event still needs a few more players, but more than anything it needs volunteers. Referee’s, scorekeepers, and people to accept donations are all still needed. Halat said that around 1,500 hours of volunteer time will need to be clocked to make it work.
“We could have paid Guinness World Records to come out, but that would have cost $96,000,” he said. “So instead we’re going to fill all of the spots with volunteers and submitting everything to prove that we broke the record.”
Halat said that the event in going to put Chestermere on the map, and that he is looking forward to it’s success.
He said, “We hope to see lots of people come out and cheer on the guys, they’re going to need it.”
Anyone interested in volunteering or participating can e-mail Alex Halat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about the hockey marathon, Diamond Marshall and the Oilympics organization, or to donate, go to hockeymarathon.com. For event updates, follow them on Twitter: @hockeymarathon.