After a one-year hiatus, the popular OPP vs. Dorchester Coaches hockey game is returning to the FlightExec Centre next Saturday. The Victim Services fundraiser includes demonstrations from emergency services personnel including firefighters and OPP, entertainment by local skaters, a silent auction and of course, an entertaining hockey game. The event has raised over $60,000 so far.
“The idea is to hold a very community-oriented event,” explained OPP Constable Kevin Howe, who will be lacing up his skates once again.
Doors open at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 26, with a display of vehicles outdoors. A popular event for spectators, the vehicle extrication done by the Thames Centre Fire Department, starts at 11:30. Many local businesses have made contributions to the silent auction. Items up for bids this year include autographed jerseys from Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres, Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils, Corey Perry of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Doug Gilmour of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a houseboat rental, golf passes, concert tickets and more.
The game starts at noon and proceeds from the admission and silent auction will support Victim Services of Middlesex County. “They are the unsung heroes,” said Howe. “Nobody sees what they do. I think it’s a great opportunity for those volunteers to be recognized.”
Victim Services volunteers provide support for individuals at the scene of a crime or accident, they replace locks at homes following break-ins and connect people with the necessary resources to help them get back on their feet again following tragic circumstances.
Volunteers will be wearing T-shirts and residents are more than welcome to ask them about the work they do. Howe says people have signed up to help out with the non-profit organization after the hockey games in years past.
Students will sing the national anthem, there will be a scrimmage by Timbits hockey players and also a skating demonstration by the North Dorchester Figure Skating Club.
Former Toronto Maple Leafs player and Dorchester resident Dave Hutchison returns as the MC and referee. Howe said, “He’s an entertainer.”
Between periods, spectators will have a chance to watch a skills competition with minor hockey players from the area taking part.
Ken and Lori Payne have been working behind the scenes helping organize the event.
“I’ve never met anyone like them,” Howe said. “People who are so dedicated to giving back to the community with their time and effort. Lori is the driving force behind the game.” She co-ordinates the roster for the coaches team, works with the municipality to secure the facilities and makes requests for the prizes that are donated.
“She’s the link between the community and us [the OPP],” explained Howe. “Without her it wouldn’t be the success it is.”
Ken works tirelessly picking up prizes, putting up posters, etc. “We’re extremely fortunate to have them on board.”
Anyone interested in donating to the silent auction or volunteering to work the admission gate can contact Lori or Ken Payne at 519-268-0477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Howe said that the OPP officers practically line up to be able to play in the game.
“It’s pretty amazing how we feel like we are part of the community. That’s the great thing about policing small town Ontario.”