Organizers of Make A Change Canada Nelson got more than they bargained for when a sellout crowd took to the Nelson and District Community Complex Arena Thursday night to watch the Montreal Canadiens alumni in action against the Kootenay Patricks.
The game not only treated the more than 1,400 fans in attendance, but also raised money for Make A Change Canada Nelson, a local charity that provides online career assistance training as well as a web development and design program.
Make A Change Canada Nelson was the main organizers of Thursday’s charity contest.
The roster for the Canadians goaltender Richard Sevigny (1979 Stanley Cup winner, 1980-81 Vezina Trophy); forwards Oleg Petrov (1993 Cup, Montreal), Pierre Dagenais, Jesse Belanger (Cup 1993, Montreal) and Jocelyn Lemieux.
On the blueline were Patrice Brisebois (Cup 1993, Montreal, two-time World Juniors gold medallist); Mathieu Dandenault (Cups 1997, 1998, 2002 Detroit; 2003 World Championship gold medallist) and Marc-Andre Bergeron. Local player Paul Major, Steve Ryder and Nelson Leafs assistant coach Adam DiBella filled out the Canadiens roster.
Steve Shutt, who won five Cups with the Habs from 1973 to 1979 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993, was behind the bench as coach of the Canadiens Alumni along with assistant coach Andy Adam of Nelson.
Nelson Leafs coach Mario DiBella and former NHL great Mike Laughton shared the coaching duties behind the Patricks bench, which included many local hockey stars filling out the roster.
After opening ceremonies that included introduction of the players on both teams, Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall and Nelson Mayor John Dooley took turns welcoming both teams to Nelson.
Organizers then welcomed fitness instructor Ed Natyshak to the ice for the opening faceoff. Before Natyshak dropped the puck, he had Canadiens Patrick Brisebois and Patricks Simon Wheeldon, who had a successful European hockey career, hit the ice for some comical push-ups to loosen up for the game.
Once the game started, it was the Patricks scoring first when Derek Diener, who had a stop in the American Hockey League before finding a home in Balfour, beat Sevigny in the Canadiens net.
The Canadiens players were thoroughly impressed with Diener’s scoring ability they wanted to honour him with a photo a center ice. Of course, the Canadiens had the last laugh when Canadiens Marc-Andre Bergeron raced up toe Diener from behind to plant a cream pie in the face of the Patricks’ forward.
The Patricks added another goal by Aaron Shrieves to go up 2-0. But the Canadiens picked up the tempo, and using their speed and tape-to-tape passing ability put a handful of shots past Patricks goalie Chris LaValley.
During the first intermission, novice players from Nelson Minor Hockey were treated to a comical five-minute game against the Canadiens that had the crowd cheering and laughing through the entire contest.
The Canadiens then joined the future hockey stars in a team photo at center ice before returning to the dressing room to sign autographs.
There’s no doubt everyone came away the winner on this night.
Ed Natyshak drops the puck between Canadiens Patrick Brisebois and Patricks Simon Wheeldon during the ceremonial opening faceoff.
Once the game started, the Canadiens Alumni treated fans to some world-class hockey.
Hall of Famer Steve Shutt orchestrated the Canadiens Alumni from behind the bench.
These Nelson Minor Hockey players waited patiently for their chance to play against the Canadiens Alumni during the first period intermission.
However, before the game, Canadiens Alumni Patrick Brisebois took the players through some pre-game stretching at center ice.
The Kootenay Patricks, a collection of local hockey players, provided a stiff opposition to the Canadiens Alumni.
The Kootenay Patricks were coached by former NHLer Mike Laughton and Leafs head coach Mario DiBella.